If I thought high school passed by in a blink… undergraduate was a whirlwind.
This morning I woke up in a dorm room, for the very last time. I sat on the edge of my bed and stared at the stark white walls that once held tapestries, posters, and Polaroid pictures. I closed my eyes and remembered the other rooms I’d lived in over the years, the ones with blue Christmas lights, window AC units, and bunk beds.
Professors can’t really prepare you for the moment you realize you’re walking out of a place that’s meant everything to you, and you’re not planning on coming back.
I pulled my graduation gown on, clutching my cap tightly in my hands.
I took a moment, standing in the doorway, to remember all of the late-night conversations that took place in crowded doorways and too-small dorm rooms. I looked at the empty bed to my right and pictured my friends and I cuddled together drinking too much wine and giggling until we couldn’t breathe. I looked at the floor and pictured a queen-sized blow-up mattress, my closest friends piled on-top, covered in quilts that my great-grandmother made, talking about our dreams until we fell asleep.
I closed the door, turned the lock, and stood in the hallway for a moment. This was my home. These damp, beige walls that held spiders also held secrets, laughs, and tears.
I bought waterproof mascara specifically for today. I walked down the stairwell hoping it would do me some justice as I thought of hugging my closest friends for the last time in a long time. They all have their own journeys to attend to, and they aren’t all from my city.
That’s another thing they don’t really prepare you for, saying goodbye to some of the best people you know. I can tell you first hand- it sucks.
I met some of the most influential people in my life in undergraduate. I met a redheaded, fair-skinned woman from my hometown that became one of my closest friends. I watched her grow into an amazing artist, and fell in love with her desire to travel and experience various cultures first-hand without reservations. I swear, she’s practically fearless. We used to go “urban spelunking” together, sliding under fences and walking on railroad tracks to explore abandoned homes, warehouses, and lots. The same year I met her, I met a small, quiet woman full of light and laughter and fell madly in-love with her ability to persevere through the hardest of circumstances. I watched her blossom as she took on leadership roles, volunteered nearly all of her free time to help others in need, and found personal strengths when she least expected it. We were the best of friends, and that’s what makes saying goodbye so hard.
When the ceremony started and I was so nervous that I was practically shaking. This was it. My family was here, I was processing in with my “exit buddy” for the last time. Tears welled in my eyes and I struggled to hide them behind my hair as we stood in the auditorium and linked arms to sing the alma mater for the very last time…
“Standing with open arms –
Standing alone –
Watching her children down through the years,
Watching and keeping them safe from harm,
Hearing their laughter and seeing their tears.
We pledge our love to thee.
We’ll hail the purple and the gold
With love and loyalty.
Alma Mater, dear to every one.
We love you now, we’ll love you when
Our college days are done.”
I was ready but I wasn’t.
And honestly, it still doesn’t feel real.
Life, of course, doesn’t end when you graduate. In the weeks leading up to this fantastic and terrifying moment I felt so lost and concerned with how I was going to handle myself and my future. I planned for a busy summer, squeezing beach and mountain trips into my schedule, along with cheap concert tickets to see up and coming musicians. I’m not sure what my exact thought process was- just that I had to do things, I had to live and experience more. Whatever more means…
Sitting here today, surrounded by family, friends, peers, and professors, I don’t want to rush it. I just want to exist, with these people, in this life, until the wind sweeps me elsewhere.
I’m still not entirely sure how I got here, to where I am. But, I am loving it and living it with all of you.
To the Converse College Class of 2018:
We did it. I’m not sure how some of us got through it, myself included, but we did. We walked together across the Twitchell stage as sisters, friends, and graduates. I wish you all so much love, light, and positivity as you tackle the world and do so many amazing, big things. It was a pleasure growing up with you, learning with you, and living with you. I love you all.
xoxo Gossip Girl (jk)