I have really wanted to write something about graduating for a while. Every so often on my daily, hour long, commute up to school or back home I think about my college experience and try to mull it over. I try to summarize it and figure out what I would say about my experience in one word if I had to.
But there are too many words that come to mind. Each year, each trimester was different.
Freshman Year, Fall: Amazing. Exciting. More.
Freshman Year, Spring: Exhausting. Happy. Bittersweet.
Sophomore Year, Fall: Busy. Lonely. Long.
Sophomore Year, Spring: Better. Quiet. Uncertain.
Junior Year, Fall: Light. Easy. Ready.
Junior Year, Spring: Wanting. Tipsy. Loved.
Senior Year, Fall: Older. Thinking. Missing.
Senior Year, Spring: Sober. Stressed. Finally.
In the planning of my graduation party back in January, all I wanted or cared about was having Chipotle cater. Cap and gown? Who cares. I just want to be out of here. I still just want to be out of here–but there is a teensy part of me that will miss school.
I have always loved school and looked forward to going back to school. My favorite part was always going out with my Gram late summer to get my school supplies and a new outfit or two. We would always go to Walmart for everything and I would try to con her into buying me the 24 pack of markers instead of the 8 pack. Then we would go for shoes at Payless where she would instruct me to pick shoes that were sturdy–like tennis shoes. Never the sparkly, light-up kind.
Then we would go for lunch somewhere or to a movie. I remember two movies over the years really distinctly; Princess Diaries and The Help. Both of them classics. After that we would go to Old Navy. I would always pick fall outfits that were on the heavier side for the cold weather and try to wear them the first day of school. It would always be too hot still for long sleeves and jeans.
Then the first day when you got to see all of your friends and class mates. It was always so neat to see who had changed over the summer. Who was more tan, who had gotten highlights, or glasses, or tried to change styles completely. New year, new grade, new identity. School was always the best.
Then college came and people told me it would be the best days of my life. Throughout college I thought those people were crazy–college days were not the best days of my life. But now that it’s over… I know what they meant.
College is a lot of the perks of being an adult with a lot less of the responsibility. College is being able to sleep until 10am and being home by 3pm on a week day. College is going to a party on a Thursday night. Maybe even a Wednesday until you realize what a mistake that is and swear never again. College is being allowed to learn and make mistakes without many repercussions. College is making friends and losing friends. College is learning to do laundry, balance a check book, fix the kitchen sink and paying bills. College is being single, and for some falling in love.
Going to Northwest Missouri State was a good decision. But who I thought I would be at the end of this journey and who I am are very different pictures. 18-year-old me thought I would be a reporter in Finland, on my way to being engaged to my late high school boyfriend. Then for a while I thought maybe I would be in radio by the time I graduated. For the first time ever, I hated school. For a few years I thought I would be on my way to law school in Kansas City, going into communications law as a single 20-something.
But come senior year even that changed. I decided law school wasn’t for me, not yet anyway. Senior year has been all about applying to any and every job I might possibly qualify for. Senior year has been about phone and Skype interviews and follow up emails. Senior year has been about making a huge commitment and graduating. I got married in March–something I thought wouldn’t be happening while I was still in school, even if I was almost finished. I’ve made plans to leave Missouri and the Kansas City area
completely and start a life eight hours away with my new husband.
I feel different. Not because I’m married or because the days of always looking to a new semester are over. I feel like (in a really bad metaphor kind of way) I’m in a cocoon that is slowly splitting open. Like I’m ready for the next phase of life, but I won’t really be there until I walk across that stage on Saturday, and then pack up the car and make the trek out to my new life in a new place.
Until next time…