Recently I’ve been listening to a song by Jim Croce- “A Long Time Ago.” The song itself is about a man finding a partner after being alone for what feels like forever. It’s like he forgets what his life was like before her, yet he remembers how he once felt.
It’s a weird comparison to make, but it got me thinking about my current situation: graduating university. I am someone that tries to not take a single thing for granted. I practice gratitude, awareness, and general appreciation for my reality and all I have. Because of this, I recognize that I’m so ready to graduate. Each step of the way, I’ve appreciated everything and been ready for the next change. As graduation is approaching, I didn’t feel emotional or sad in any way. Until tonight.
I left the very last meeting for one of my organizations and I really started to realize that all of this is ending.
It seems like such a long time ago, but somehow not long ago at all, that the world was on lockdown. After that initial few months of mandates, the world went through a year of this groggy, awkward, stilted experience. The months following lockdown were so odd. It was like we were pretending everything was normal, but we couldn’t see anyone in person. These months overlapped with my second year of university. Rather than stay at home to complete classes, I got an apartment in my college town. It was truly the best choice I could have made for my mental health at the time, but even with that said, I was not okay.
Externally—everyone was isolated; internally—my friend group was falling apart; and personally, I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life. This was the worst my mental health had ever been.
I turned to spirituality. I tried manifesting, praying, journaling, meditating (once again), or anything that I felt would work. I was hoping for a miracle, but I was miserable.
I missed the social side of my first year, I wanted so badly to find that version of myself again. I remember wanting to join an organization. At the time, I desperately wanted to be in Greek Life. Truly, what I wanted was community. With all my heart: I was craving support, sisterhood, philanthropy, a good cause, something to devote my time to. Superficially, if I’m being honest, I wanted that support to be from a “family”: I wanted a Big and a Little. Greek Life seemed so exclusive and fun. I loved the idea of something that was so special that few people could have it. A coveted, elite network of awesome people. I really romanticized the idea. It all sounded so good to me. As time went on, I went through recruitment. I wasn’t wanted by the groups that wanted me. As nice as everyone was, I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t find a “home,” as they called it. I felt desperate for the community I described. I took to Reddit and asked for advice in a sorority forum. When I expressed that recruitment didn’t work out, I was told to look for clubs that wanted me; look for groups that you fit with, groups with similar interests. As I said before, I really was serious about this, but if social Greek Life wasn’t the right fit, where could I find that same dream?
Again, I kept wishing. I wished and wished for a support system. I wished for a “Fam” in Greek Life. I took to my manifestation journal and I manifested joy, love, support, a family, a network, and socializing. I manifested a life of fulfilment. Maybe this journal could bring me my dream.
One day, it was 8 weeks into the spring semester. Clubs weren’t taking any new members, but I was feeling really keen to join something. In frustration, I put out am Instagram Story post, asking if anyone knew of clubs still looking for members. A few people were discouraging, saying things like “wow, now? The semester is almost over.” But I got one great response. There was one girl I really thought was cool, Kat. She was in the Cooks Honors College with me, but I’d never met her. She was also in a sorority I really loved, and she was a psychology major (like me)! In short, I admired her, but she seemed too cool for me. Kat responded to my story with a suggestion “you should join PGN! They’re done with recruitment but join in the fall!” Phi Gamma Nu is a business organization, I couldn’t join. She assured me “PGN wants members who are different majors. Check them out! I just joined!”
When fall came around, I looked into PGN. After going through PGN interviews, I was considered a “potential new member” (PNM) and I was assigned a Big. It was Kat! She wanted me as her Little. Honestly, she was the best Big I could’ve asked for. Our organization didn’t give out letters, do big/little reveal, or expect Big’s to give out baskets, but we did other expressions. After all, I wasn’t in it for the stuff, I was in it for the connection. I didn’t want a Big to spoil me with material things, I wanted a Big that would be a support system for me. That’s exactly what Kat was (and still is). She’s my point of contact for questions about graduate school, and for all things related to social life, venting, and professionalism. Just like a Big, she gives great advice and is always there with the answers. Just like a Big she sets an awesome example for me. In terms of leadership, conferences, networking, and expanding a professional portfolio; she is always doing something cool. In fact, when my friends see my socials and tell me that I’m “always doing something interesting,” it only makes me feel connected to her. More than anything, I can’t even articulate the butterflies I used to feel when she’d call me “Little.” To this day, I can still be heard saying “even if I’m having the worst day, hearing Kat call me ‘Little’ will make the whole day better.” Through her, I learned how to make my LinkedIn look so much better, I learned how to network, I attended university hosted dinners and events with her, I felt empowered by her. She was my dream Big.
When Kat graduated, I was ready to take on a Little of my own. Although she was gone, I fully intended to be an example of her. In Fall 2022, I noticed a PNM join that was so pretty and sweet. I didn’t know her yet, but I learned her name was Lily: one of my favorite names. That’s my Little. The night she found out I was her Big, she jumped back, and shrieked with so much happiness, “oh my God, I was hoping it was you!” She gave me the biggest hug. I can’t even tell you how much joy that brought me. I always wanted that reaction. I always hoped for it. That semester was spent with getting to know her, feeling her love for me as a mentor, but also getting to spoil her. Hey, maybe I didn’t need to be spoiled by my Big, but I love giving gifts and affection. I fell in love with her personality, her spirit, and her devotion to people she loves. Lily is entirely glamorous, professional, intimidating, and wise. I loved her so much that I wanted another version of her. Lily joined PGN to be among business majors, and she, herself, was a marketing major. Since my Big was in the Psychology field, I wanted to keep that in our Fam line. In Spring 2023, I found a perfect Little that was spiritual, earthy, unassuming, thoughtful, observant, and best of all they were a Psychology major! Taylor is my second Little, and as disappointed as I was to only have one semester with them, they are truly all I wanted in a Little. She is goofy, shy, nervous, gentle, all while being so intelligent and genuine. Their love for me is nowhere near the adoration I have for her. After their initiation, I said to myself “okay, I’m done here. I’m ready to graduate. I’ve done everything I wanted to do.” She completed me, and she totally fulfilled my time at IUP.
It’s so weird to say that I wasn’t sad about leaving, because honestly, I wasn’t. Like I said, I am usually so aware of each moment and each experience, that I never take anything for granted. When things end, I’m usually not sad. As I write this article, I actually feel my last few days of college slipping away. This week I had my last Her Campus meeting and I almost couldn’t face that it was over. As I left my final PGN chapter meeting, I actually felt emotional. It finally hit me. I’m graduating.
It seems like such a long time ago, that I spent hours and hours manifesting and praying for this life. I really received it. Tonight, I messaged both my Littles and I told them “I wished for you.” I just don’t think they realize that it’s true. Both my girls represent two halves of my personality and my heart, and it’s actually hard to think about leaving my college town. I spent years here. I learned about myself. I figured out who I was. I came to university without a clue about my future, and I’m graduating with a plan. Maybe life plans are subject to change, but until these last four years, I have never had one. Recently, I wrote an article about “manifestation” and this was because I fully believe in its power. I put so much energy out into the universe, and I got it back times three. It seems like such a long time ago that I was wishing for a miracle, but it was just waiting for me to receive it. If you’re reading this article and you are waiting for your life to change, keep dreaming, but go make it happen. Your wish is out there, it’s waiting for you to accept it.