If you had told me in November 2019 where I would be in November of 2023, I would not have believed you. I am sure most people wouldn’t.
If you had told me in November 2021 that I would be graduating early, willingly giving up my senior spring, I probably wouldn’t have believed you either.
Or maybe I would have. It was a tough time.
But the point is, as a 2020 high school graduate, the idea of graduating early from college, purposefully not taking in all the time I could have, is strange. Especially for someone who was heavily affected by the lack of a senior spring, I never really thought I would be here.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. I am grateful for my ability to have taken AP exams and dual enrollment classes to get ahead. I am stoked to close my online learning platform and every one of my organized tabs for the last time. I am in love with the idea of being able to sit and read for fun without having to worry about what assignments I still need to get done. I cannot wait to no longer feel the stress of a final exam.
But I am going to miss out on some of the same things I missed out on during high school. I was upset about missing the band concert and prom and graduation, sure. But what I was really mourning was the little things. The general feeling of excitement in the air. Taking in everything for the last time with the people who have been by your side the entire time. Breakfasts and coffees and little adventures because a lot of the stress was off. Wearing dresses for a week straight for no real reason.
My roommates are great and are in the celebratory mood with me, but there isn’t that general buzz in the air that movies and shows and books always seem to indicate, because the amount of people graduating in December is much less than the number graduating in the spring. For most, we are nearing the end of yet another semester, not The End.
The End is something you think about for years and years. Since I was sitting on the floor in preschool during circle time, learning my alphabet using the Letter Can, I have been working towards this, here, now. The last planned thing.
You go from maybe preschool, to elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college (if that is the path you take). There is no direct next step. You could go to grad school, you could get a job, you could travel, you could get another bachelor’s degree. Those set-in stone next steps don’t exist. How do you know what is next?
I’m off to fulfill a dream I’ve had since middle school, which is to complete the Disney College Program. I am content with my next step but have no idea what the future is going to hold after that. I am super excited to go and complete the program, as my middle school self waited years and years to be eligible to apply. Disney means a lot to me and my family, and I know I am doing something I won’t regret with my senior spring.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss things. I will miss the random evening adventures I take with my roommates, from Target to McDonalds to The Dollar Store. I will miss my campus and its beauty (which was one of the reasons I came here to begin with). I will miss my roommate’s cat, seeing my other roommate’s dog, and the swans. I will miss giving tours, miss watching sunsets, miss complaining about the wind (okay, maybe not that last one).
My college career was far from what I ever expected it would be, from two weeks after I submitted my deposit when the pandemic hit up until the minute I am writing this. It wasn’t the best four years of my life. It was really, really hard. There was a lot of bad, a lot of rough moments. But there was good too. I’m glad it wasn’t the best four years of my life. It shouldn’t have been. Because what about the next four years? Or the four after that? Shouldn’t the rest of my life be good too? Not just these past four years?
Every time I dreaded getting back in the car to drive back here, every tear that fell leaving my parents, every Google search for something else. Every laugh, every Marvel movie, every episode of Friends, every internship meeting, every achievement, every friendship, every admissions shift, every Taylor Swift friendship bracelet made, every sunset watched, every walk taken, every little treat, every Her Campus meeting, every new friendship.
It is weird and bittersweet and exciting and terrifying, and I have a lot of feelings about it that I don’t have words to describe.
Taylor Swift once said “The scary news is, you’re on your own now. The cool news is, you’re on your own now.” The scary news is, I’m on my own now. The cool news is, I’m on my own now, and I hope that I can look back on these thoughts in a year, two years, five years, ten years, and be proud of who I am about to become.