It's the second semester of my final year in college, and a few things have started to become predictable in the most unusual and, let's face it, mockingly lamentable, way. For example, I can expect one given experience daily to make me prematurely miss my current lifestyle. This puts me in the position to wistfully look off in the distance, allowing memories from the past four years project in my mind, leaving my classmates to wonder why the weird girl in the back corner of the seminar cries on her laptop during discussions of communication theories so often.
These dramatic actions can be brought on by anything. When I say anything, I mean it. A text message from a friend, and old photo, a facebook video of an otter walking in the snow....anything. Yesterday, an especially long and emotional experience came from my Spotify. As I was adding songs to my (perfect) 'Keroeke Songz' playlist, I started to cry over memories of my friends and me singing to an audience of college students and townies at our favorite dive bar, where the bouncers know us by name and the bartenders are familiar with our drink orders. The first few seconds of Alphaville's popular synthesized 80's classic 'Forever Young' sent me into a memory induced haze while I, too, wished that I could be this young for the rest of my life. Even typing that last sentence brought tears to my eyes. I am embarrassed of my actions and I do not know why I am choosing to publish them on the internet.
I suppose that I was naive to believe that the final months of school would bring me anything different from these experiences and emotions listed above, as I'm a painfully sensitive and nostalgic woman who has grown reacting to change in a fairly hostile matter. But I do think that my impending graduation has brought the most extreme sets of sentimental demeanor out of me, as this phase of my life is unarguably the largest change that I have ever willingly accepted.
College in itself is a truly unique experience. Living in a town filled almost exclusively with young adults, having every friend, job, bar, and building less than five minutes away at any given time, and .75 cent double well drinks from Drifters on Thursdays is something I know that I am never going to be able to encounter again. College culture, while hated by some, has allowed me to mature into the person that I always wanted to be when I was little. Smart, confident, hard working, and surrounded by people who love me unconditionally. If I had the ability to freeze time and keep everything exactly as it is now for just a little bit longer, I would without hesitation. I am going to miss being 22, I am going to miss learning from professors, I am going to miss my friends, and I am going to miss having all of these things at the exact same time. My life is happy and fulfilling and I am not looking forward to being thrown into an unfamiliar world and lifestyle.
Something else that brings me remorse is the evident and pressing change that is about to slap me very hard on the face the moment I walk across the graduation stage and accept my degree. I have quite literally been going to various forms of school as long as I have can remember. Each day was similar to the one before it, and while each bit of scholarly progression was a variation, it was always school. Each year, when summer vacation came to an end, I knew that I would still be sitting at a desk by mid-August. I can not say that anymore, as grad school for my degree is unnecessary at this time. An imminent neon question mark has been looming in the distance my entire life, but now, I am able to make out the shape, color, and size. Each day the question mark becomes closer and more difficult to ignore. I have tried throwing alcohol on it, looking in a different direction, laughing at it, and ignoring it, but I can't seem to get rid of it. Probably because the great wide unknown is one of the most inevitable parts of life that each individual faces in one way or another.
My four years at Illinois State have treated me better than I could have ever imagined, and I know that is what makes leaving so agonizing. It took me a long time to find myself, but college pushed me to do so through experiences and relationships that shaped my ideals and behaviors today. I hope that my future is bright, that I get everything that I deserve and have worked hard for, and that at the end of the day in five years, I will go to bed each night being happy with how everything turned out. I am confident in my abilities to do good and be successful in my endeavors post-grad, but that does not mean that I am not going to miss everything that I had the privilege of experiencing during my time in school. Soon, I will be a working woman in the city, wondering what the hell I was so worried about just a few years prior, but for now, I'm going to listen to cheesy music and think about how wonderful the past four years have truly been to me with one glistening, cinematic tear rolling down my cheek.
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