The memory is as fresh as if it was yesterday. Sitting at the table in the chapter house dining room during senior night. Listening to my fellow soon-to-be graduates cry about how much they will miss this place, and each other, and everyone else, and how they just wish they could stay here forever.
And all the while, I’m thinking to myself, “Am I the only one who’s excited to graduate? Am I the only one who’s so ready to be done with this?”
Don’t get me wrong, I loved being an undergraduate. I loved my chapter, my sisters, my GDI friends, the parties, the nights that took you somewhere completely different than where you thought they would, caused by a detour otherwise known as tequila. And **nerd alert** I even loved the actual school part of college. But by about March of my senior year…I was just done. Over it. Ready to move onto the next phase of my life. Ready to be an adult. Well, as adult as one can be while remaining on their parents’ cell phone plan. While I was sad that I’d no longer have all of my friends living together in one place, I wasn’t sad about my college experience being over. I was ready to leave my home of the last few years and embark on the adventure of being a semi-grown up.
Looking back on it now, with a few years of wisdom and experience, my eagerness to get the hell out of dodge (or Amherst, as it were) probably led me to miss a few things. I probably could have, and should have, treasured those last few days with my sisters, some of whom I’d never see again. (Trust me, despite the best of intentions, that happens.) I should have paid more attention in those final moments, soaked them in, instead of wondering what was coming up on my horizon. The “real world” was approaching whether I wanted it to or not, so maybe I shouldn’t have rushed it.
But truthfully, there’s a reason that college is only four years. Four of the greatest years you’ll have, yes. But I’ve found that the best of experiences, the ones that you treasure and love and learn from, are finite. If they went on forever, you’d stop appreciating them. Grow tired of them. Maybe even begin to hate them. And one of the best parts about college is that right about when you get there, to that place of being done, it’s time to go.
If you’re sitting at that table during senior night, or in your cap and gown at graduation, wondering if you’re the only one who’s ready to go, my guess is that you probably aren’t. But what most of us haven’t figured out by that moment is that being eager to go and being sad to leave aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not an either or proposition. So instead, we focus on the sad, on the “I don’t want to leave you!” and the “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” because being excited when it’s time to say goodbye somehow feels wrong. No one wants to be the one that says “I love you all, I’m going to miss you so much, but I am also excited to get the hell out of here and move onto the next phase in my life”…even if a bunch of you thinking it.
So that, my friends, is my graduation gift to all of you. Telling you that it’s ok to be excited about moving on, even if you don’t want to say it out loud. That you should be eager to find the world that awaits you after graduation day, even if you aren’t entirely sure what that world will involve just yet. That it’s ok not to want to cry because it’s over, but to instead smile because of where you are headed next..