In nine weeks, the four-year book of life I’ve written will come to an end. Thank-freaking-God. Last summer in late August, the final year of college looming ahead seemed not only daunting but incredibly sad. All I could think about as summer turned to fall and the last-first day of my final 9 months left of school began, was that in a matter of weeks, I’d leave the people behind who have been the foundation of my life since I was 18. It was earth shattering. I felt that way for about five minutes.
Don’t get me wrong—leaving is never easy in any situation, especially when you’ve grown to be fairly comfortable. Truthfully, I do feel a pang of sadness here and there when I remember I won’t be seeing my friends on the third floor of the journalism school every day, or that seeing everyone I love in the bars on a Wednesday night will no longer be. But at the same time, there is an odd sense of comfort in that.
The last few years of college have been a total shit show in both the best and worst ways possible. The last couple of months have come crashing down harder than any midterm I have ever taken. I believe strongly that while 4 years is a long time to build relationships, learn, cry, and laugh, it is also the smallest fraction of your life. And because of that, I am okay with leaving.
We all knew that this day was coming. From the moment we decided which college we would go to, whether we were thinking this far ahead or not, we all knew that all good (and bad) things will come to an end. For that reason we have, or at least should have, prepared ourselves for the friendships that will inevitably end, the feeling of security knowing your college best friend is just a few blocks away being gone, and the promise of a weekend spent with the same people from the last 4 years will become a once-a-year excursion when we can take work off, or simply a memory. Basically, we knew this wouldn’t last.
I have learned more outside of the classroom than I have inside of it.I was sexually assaulted twice in college. My grandma died. Close friends turned to my biggest enemies in a matter of minutes. I slept on the floor crying more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve experienced racism. I’ve experienced sexism. I’ve stressed about only having one dollar in my bank account. I watched my friends around me lose themselves to eating disorders. I have lost myself countless time to eating disorders. I have seen and been through it all.
Was college fun? Absolutely. Were there times I would relive again if I could? In a heartbeat. But do I know that this book was filled with the toughest life lessons possible that I can walk away from it knowing that I learned and lived through it all just to say, “What a fucking time”? 100%.
I have learned that I am stronger than I think. I have also learned, much against my stubbornness, that I have many things to work on. I have learned that I should listen more than I talk. I have learned that being a friend isn’t about receiving an invite to a pregame, but rather about who will sit and cry with me into the early hours of the morning when I feel like the world fell on me. I have learned that when the going gets tough, if you don’t keep going, you will crumble. I have learned to put my mental health first—hell, I have learned to put me first. I have learned that to be alone does not mean that I am lonely. I have learned to not give a fuck. I have learned so much more than I could ever summarize into words on this page.
Perhaps my biggest take away from these years is that whether we like it or not, something being the end can be a great thing. Leaving a world behind that brought you countless memories, great stories to tell, and knowledge that can only be found once you hit your lowest is rough in the way that can be beautiful. The feeling of emotion when looking back on your college experience with fondness or nostalgia means that you know in your heart that life was lived. Good and bad, ending the years you’ve spent as the current person you are is bound to make you get the empty feeling of: what’s next? How do I go on?
For me, I got into the ‘leaving’ mindset late in fall term of senior year. I do seriously wish I could see the people I see now, every single day for the rest of my life. But that is not realistic. Tears will more than likely be shed at some point in this term, but they won’t be shed out of sadness, but rather at the promise of tomorrow and the rest of my life because the foundation I am standing on, here, at this moment, is as strong is has ever been.
I fell out with a few girls I have known and loved since freshman year, this past week. It had honestly made this entire ‘leaving thing’ easier than I could have ever imagined. In fact, I am thankful for it. There is a part of me that is still trying to process it, but there is an even larger part of me that understands that there is no love lost. I did not expect friendships that I have spent time in to end at this time over things however trivial or petulant, but with college practically being done and with our lives growing in different directions, I sleep well at night knowing that this is, again, another lesson that I learned in my time here. I am a firm believer in that what is meant to be will always find a way to be. I am also a firm believer that the universe removes those who do not belong in your life when you reach a state of growth that is positive. Some of us are only meant to be in each other’s lives for a season, and I couldn’t be happier that their season is over. I live with zero regrets about how anything has played out thus far.
The power of indifference is both a strength and a weakness. It’s meaning is rooted in the belief that not caring and looking at each possible outcome as a way out from feeling like you have been suffocated is your best option. For me, at this point, it is. I look back at college as a huge social experiment. We weren’t entirely on our own, but to some degree, navigating spaces where we had never been, or forcing ourselves to just be okay when things go awry is why I am so ready to just be done. I know enough now that whatever will come my way in the future, I am confident that these lessons have served as a guide for me to navigate my next move.
There is a whole world out there made up of people who once felt this way too, even if they didn’t go to college. This was a brief moment from the reality that the end doesn’t necessarily mean the end, but rather a new beginning. We have soaked up so much knowledge and our experiences were unique in there own way. I can look back and say that my time here was positive. I can also recognize that it was made up of so many moments that tested who I was, who I wanted to be, and what I believed in. I can honestly say I am walking away from this face forward to the future, the memories behind me, and ready to employ all I have learned to stand on a solid foundation of acceptance of change.