The end is near, or so that’s what everyone has been saying. You choose not to pay attention to all that talk because, as a senior, it’s depressing, terrifying and heart-wrenching all at the same time. You’ve stuck your fingers in your ears and sang “la la la” because you’ll do anything to drown out talk of graduation (even reading the word gives you chills).
Like many others in the class of 2016, you may be flat-out refusing to believe that you’re graduating soon from the school you’ve grown to love. You’ve walked the halls at ungodly hours, enjoyed (or endured) campus dining and gained a second family and home at college. We understand your unwillingness to leave and have seen the same misty-eyed look in other seniors. If you can relate to any of the following points, then somebody needs to call the doctor, because it means you’ve got a bad case of denial (don’t we all wish we could be #foreveryoung?).
1. You ignore all the warning signs.
You’ve set up your email to filter any messages that contain the following words: “senior,” “ceremony,” “graduation,” “commencement,” “end,” “last” and “goodbye.” If you don’t think about leaving school forever, then it won’t happen. That’s how it works, right? You also refuse to transition from your student email that has so faithfully notified you of weekly pizza deals and online clothing sales. The email you used before ([email protected], anyone?) was from way back in high school, and your next email will be your professional email that will stick with you for a while—your student email represents everything sweet and perfect about this stage of your young adulthood. And now graduation is trying to take that away from you? Say it ain’t so!
2. You avoid conversations about the future of your friendships and relationships.
When you grab froyo with your roommate of three years, you don’t talk about how these late-night dessert trips will soon be a thing of the past or how keeping in touch will be infinitely harder when you start your jobs in different cities. You just focus on the here and now, not the fact that your entire friend circle will disperse in a matter of weeks, never to reunite and hang out as frequently or as effortlessly as you do now ever again. No biggie.
3. You hate when underclassmen get nostalgic, because you know you could be way more nostalgic… if you wanted to be, which you don’t.
They haven’t even been around for that long—what are they getting teary-eyed over? You roll your eyes at non-seniors who are posting about their last day of classes… for the semester. Though you were in their shoes not long ago, you feel like there’s a generational gap between those who are returning to campus next fall and those who are being mercilessly chucked into the real world. Non-seniors only need to worry about one summer, while graduating seniors need to worry about the rest of their lives.
4. You pretend there will be plenty of opportunities to finish your bucket list.
Is your schedule too booked for that annual art exhibit you’ve always wanted to see? You lie to yourself and think, “Next time.” Because there will totally be a next time. You’ve successfully convinced yourself that you will always be a resident of this city and that you will always attend this school. It’s the only life you’ve known for the past four years, and admissions cannot kick you out because you’ve already scratched out the expiration date on your student ID.
5. You haven’t figured out necessary post-graduation arrangements, such as booking flights back home or securing housing.
As much as you love talking about what your plans are after graduation (sarcasm), you’re struggling to work out the minor details of grown-up life, like where you’ll sleep at night. Things usually fall into place with time, so instead of browsing Craigslist for cheap apartments, you’re spending your time looking through the bands coming through town next semester. You can almost smell the residual sunscreen from the long summer and the smoke from back-to-school BBQs.
6. You haven’t started packing or even sorting your things into “keep” and “discard” piles.
This dorm/apartment is your home. You haven’t even purchased packing boxes because the idea of shipping all your stuff to a location that is not here freaks you out. Plus, you just can’t bring yourself to throw away all the useless freebies your school has given away—because who knows when you might need an inflatable replica of your school mascot?
7. You make new friends and act like you have forever to bond.
There’s something about senior year that makes you open up and appreciate the classmates you’ve spent years ignoring. You’re probably guilty of saying something like, “Why did we not hang out earlier?!” between hugs and squeals of delight for newfound friendship. Maybe you’re reaching out now because you hear it’s hard to make friends after college—not that you have to worry about that, since you are never, ever leaving.
8. Your cap and gown are stowed away in an unknown location.
Come to think of it, you haven’t seen your cap and gown since the day you picked it up. But you’re pretty sure you’ll be able to dig around and find it the day of graduation, so why bother looking now? You have more important things to do, like sleep until 2 p.m. and not study for that final you are totally done with. The worst thing that could happen is you show up to graduation without the proper attire, but worse things have happened to many people before you (read: graduating, period).
9. You say “see you later” instead of “goodbye.”
You don’t need to ask people when they’re leaving school, because you already know the answer: soon. Finding out exactly how soon would be overkill for your heart, so you prefer to end every interaction with a casual “catch you later” instead of the sobbing, wet mess it could easily turn into. It’s usually less awkward for everyone if you keep your emotions bottled up inside. So instead of a proper farewell, your friends should expect to receive a very impersonal mass text announcing your soon-to-be absence from their lives.
10. You don’t know any details about graduation weekend.
How many ceremonies do you have to attend? What’s the dress code? Will there be free food? For being the reason for so many celebrations, you sure are clueless about what’s going on. Your parents expect you to lead them through the busy weekend, but they’re in for a surprise. You haven’t made any restaurant reservations or RSVPed with how many guests you plan to bring to graduation.
11. You still measure time in terms of summers and school years.
As a working adult, the word “summer” will no longer be synonymous with a break. How sad is that? Even though you’ll soon be operating on the calendar year, you still find yourself asking your friends where they’ll be this summer. The only thing sadder than being so far away from them is that there’s no guarantee you’ll see them at the end of it. No more back-to-school bear hugs, “I’ve-missed-you-so-much” tackles or screams of excitement when your group of friends is reunited on campus. But soon you’ll totally have that 401(k), which is just as cool, if not more.
We hate to see you go, collegiettes. Parting ways with college can feel like a breakup, which is why our best advice is to have a clean break. Commencement will be like pulling off the Band-Aid, but you’ll start healing before you know it. You’ll see your friends at reunions, and you’ll always have the memories of your crazy college days whenever you visit campus.