I think I certainly put off writing about graduation long enough.
I can’t say I regret the way I spent my last year of college. I certainly lived every moment to the fullest, making sure to have fun and spend as much time with my friends as possible. Even in my last year, I experienced new things and met an incredible bunch of new people. But that’s where I begin – I wish I had met some people sooner. At a school as small as Amherst, it makes me sad that I had not crossed paths with some of my now beloved friends earlier. We could have enjoyed so many more meals and late-night hangs together. Some of these friends I only really got to know the last few months of my last semester. I know it’s better late than never, but time is always of the essence, and the essence burned away much too quickly.
As for my older friends…now I’m in the “real world,” in a big city, typing this alone in a room. If I close my eyes and play specific songs, I’m back in my dorm room, with the faux fireplace, the window open to the silence of my college town, the silence only broken occasionally by drunk students coming home or going to another party. If I close my eyes, some of my dormmates are sitting on my floor, some on my massive bed, one of them usually wearing my rice farmer hat, while I sit on my desk chair, soaking in everything happily but desperately. Having everybody I love around me, in such close proximity at all times is such a thing of the past now. I can’t just open my door and walk down the hall, knock on a door that looks exactly like mine and ask for chocolate or wine glasses. I can’t just flop on somebody else’s bed and ask for solace when things are hard or when I just feel like napping on somebody else’s bed. When I go to the bathroom now to brush my teeth, I see only myself in the mirror, no other hungover or drowsy hallmate, just me.
We were all so together – not put together – but together. At times the campus got a little small and it snowed a little too much in April and we all sent one too many drunk texts, but we experienced this all together. Not alone, but together.
I remember as if it were just yesterday, meeting my freshman roommate, the unhealthily late nights in the common room, talking much too loudly, getting yelled at by fellow floormates trying to sleep. I remember inappropriately objectifying the upperclassmen we found attractive. I also remember the nights throwing up, drunk texting people I wish I had never drunk texted, friendships that went awry, unrequited love, struggles with teammates, not being the smartest one anymore, family issues – they were all there. I don’t want to invalidate my worries and problems during those four years because anger is anger and stress is stress, but I – we – always had September to go back to school.
We had security and certainty. And now I’m the most uncertain and lost I’ve ever been in my life. Most of my friends have started their respective jobs, some loving what they’re doing and some already hating what they’re doing. We’re all in different cities, and I know a lot of those cities are pretty cool – Beijing, Santa Monica, Singapore, Montpellier, New York – but I’m already lonely. Sure, I see friends on the weekends and the occasional dinner, but it’s calculated effort. You can’t just expect to run into somebody on your way to the library or to the gym. Maybe in New York more so than other places, but it’s still just not the same. Waking up and walking to our one dining hall and seeing everybody, even when I didn’t want to…it was college.
If you had asked me at the end of May or even in June, “Would you go back to college?” I would have gotten on my hands and knees, tears flowing down my face, and begged them to let me go back, let me live with all of my friends again and blackout in the socials and eat at Miss Saigon or go to the third floor of Frost or lie out on the Quad…anything. I was an emotional wreck and was so much more afraid of leaving this time and space than I realized I was.
But now it’s almost September, and if somebody gave me the choice to go back, I would say no – with a heavy heart – but a hearty and genuine no, nonetheless. Everything has a time and place, and I think it’s time for a new stage of life. We can still see our friends, but we’ll see the friends that truly matter. There are new cities to explore and new people to meet. We can decorate our apartments and eat at cool restaurants. We have new things to study and learn, new places to travel to. It’s not as convenient or as easy as college was, but it can be magical and wonderful, as long as we stay open and positive.
I was lucky enough to travel most of my summer, and that gave me a lot of clarity on a lot of different situations and relationships. Ultimately, I realized that the world is so full of beautiful things and there are so many other experiences to be had. I absolutely loved college, but that was a bubble, and I think I’m finally ready.
So to those who have not yet graduated, please, PLEASE try to enjoy your four years or however many remain. Things get hard and people are unpredictable and things change, and it wasn’t perfect, but college is such a wonderful bubble to immerse yourself in. And to those who, like myself, have graduated and have been thrown into this big universe, be brave.
It’s almost September, but I’ll be elsewhere.