This Is The Grief Of Graduation

I don’t do well with change. I never have. I thought when my family sold our old house it was the end of the world, and don’t even get me started on the iOS7 software update. So, when it finally hit me that I’ll soon be leaving the place I’ve called home for four years, panic mode set in.

Immediately, I started DABDA-ing: a verb I created to describe undergoing Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. This is what my process has so far looked like in a nutshell:

Denial. I am not graduating. I’m just not. I’m failing my classes on purpose. Can we not say the G-word? No, Aunt Susan, I don’t know what I’m doing next year- it’s still early. *artsy Instagram* #neverleaving

Anger. Look at those freshmen. They have no idea how lucky they are. Stupid sophomores. I hate everyone with more time. Why, God, why?

Bargaining. I think I’m gonna stay on campus for like three weeks after graduation. I need to do all my favorite things one last time. Dad I’ll come home when I come home, ok?

Depression. This is my last time in this building. See ya never, Science Hall. Oh my god, I’m really going to miss Science Hall. *wipes tear* Stop crying over a building. Look where you’re going or you’ll walk into a tree. Awww, I’m going to miss that tree.

Acceptance. I haven’t gotten this far yet, but I’m accepting any and all suggestions to help me get here.

With barely weeks before G-word, I couldn’t help but think about what it is about this place, this lifestyle, and this time in our lives that makes us cringe thinking it will soon be over. What is making this so hard for us to accept?

Sure, we’re terrified of what comes next. For the first time in our lives we don’t have a plan set up for us. After middle school, there was high school. After high school, there was college. And after college, there is just a big giant question mark. Sometimes I find myself asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because honestly, I am still looking for ideas. How can I enter the real world if I still can’t make it through the night without my baby blankey? I even searched for a job with the keywords “pajamas”, “puppies” and “food” on Indeed.com, but nothing came up.

Sure, we’ll miss the partying, the blackouts, and the acceptability of sleeping at a boy’s you don’t know just because you haven’t gotten any in SO LONG (you were all thinking it. I’m just the one who said it.) We’ll miss the football games, the tailgates, and the late-night pizza runs. We’ll miss the crowded buses, the empty lectures on a Friday morning, and the all-nighters procrastinating our papers.

But these aren’t the reasons we’re afraid to leave here. We knew we’d have to get a job someday. There will always be a place to drink. And procrastination never ends, hence why I’m writing this article instead of my Philosophy final, sorry Professor. What I’m trying to say is, it’s not exactly what we do at college that we’ll miss, or what we’ll do after. It’s who we’ve become here. It’s how we feel at home here.

College is a place we come to learn, study, and explore careers. Don’t worry Mom and Dad, we’ve learned, studied, and explored. But we’ve learned far more here than anything we could read in a textbook. And I’m talking about much more than how to do our own laundry. We’ve found ourselves here. We took classes we hated and found majors we loved. We’ve found family here. We lived with our best friends and were the ones they turned to in times of tragedy. We’ve found home here. I know I’m not the only one who feels comfortable walking to Walgreens in my pajamas and going to class with no bra on (ok, maybe that one is just me.) My point is that for the past four years, we’ve lived in a little campus bubble with people only our age separate from all other reality and responsibility.

And all of that is about to change. This scares the sh*t out of us because we know that the buildings will stay, the restaurants will remain open, and the classes will resume without us. We know when we return, this familiar place won’t feel so familiar anymore. We’ll go to our favorite brunch spot and see a new group of hungover girls recounting their blurry nights over bagels. We’ll enter our old apartment building knowing no packages in the pile are for us. We’ll go to our bar, watch a girl cry over a boy, and remember when it was our friend we had to comfort. We’ll walk through the library and see a new student frustrated over Biochem in our spot. (Ok, let’s be real I never took Biochem, but someone had to.) We’ll hop on a bus of unfamiliar faces and we’ll remember that one boy who was always on your 8:50 route and jeeze maybe if you gave him your number you wouldn’t still be single #regrets. We’ll come back to this familiar place that won’t feel so familiar anymore.

And suddenly, we’ll realize that what we’ve been hearing all along is true: “these are the best four years of your life.” I think that what makes them so great is that eventually: they end. But I don’t think we really grasp this concept until we’re forced to somehow say goodbye: to the friends that have become our family, the town that has become our home, and the school that has become both.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re like me: about to graduate and struggling to conquer the Acceptance stage of your grief… know that you’re not alone. I don’t have all the words to make you feel better, but I do have these: No. More. Group. Projects. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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