We walk through the halls thinking how this very moment is one of the final instances we tread to class, while dissecting pieces of memories we created in the last four or five years.
Sometimes we get a little sentimental because we know that goodbyes are bound to happen. We sit on our chairs relishing the familiarity of faces you see every day, remembering the first encounter with each person in the room and realizing now that we’re separating ways.
Our eyes dart towards the board, trying to relive the exact moment we felt enthralled about our first day in college, about how it replaced high school and became our new reality. Now college is a phase in our lives that is shortly going to end, a chapter that slowly comes to a close. And there is no stopping it.
Let’s raise our glasses to tests we conquered, to friends we made, to professors we met, to laughter we shared, to tears we shed. We are so close to the finish line.
This is for us who spent countless nights with hearts pounding inside our ribcages after taking too many cups of coffee. This is for us who buried our noses in books while constantly ignoring how heavy our eyes felt in the wee hours of the morning. This is for us who dove in head first to whatever life threw at us. Because no matter how much we wanted to surrender, we didn’t. We kept surviving. And here we are.
Time is slipping away faster than it should. We run through our mental list of things we are supposed to do during college. Some of us might have finished it, while some might have not yet gotten close to fulfilling half. And there are things that happened that we did not foresee. They were not in the list, but they shaped us into who we are today, molded us into people who are made wiser and stronger by experience. We are not the same people we were, but we are still evolving each day.
Even as I speak, we are transforming. We are always changing, every minute of every day. We did things we are not proud of, made decisions we are not sure of. But they changed us, didn’t they? Even if they turned out to be excruciatingly difficult at times, those things paved the way to breathtakingly beautiful outcomes.
And today, we are different—the way we speak, the way we dress, the way we sleep, the way we think. We are the end result of all our choices, right and wrong. We are the summation of all our experiences, good and bad. We have transitioned into many versions of ourselves over the years, and so far this is the best one yet.
We had our hearts broken. Tears streamed down our cheeks as we cried ourselves to sleep. Some of our nightmares came to haunt us during the day, but we were soldiers. College was a taste of the real world, where pens became weapons and classrooms turned into battlefields.
But being a student was more than fulfilling academic requirements. Being a student has more to do with thriving than simply surviving. Being a student was more about discipline, rather than all the written rules and discussions inside the classroom. Being a student was more about learning and knowing our mistakes, and less about writing down correct answers. It is more about the people we chose to be with, and less about the ones we lost.
And it all goes down to the people who surrounded us. We are going to miss our friends the most. They may or may not be our first friends in college, but they made the journey more meaningful than it was supposed to be. They are the ones we wish we met earlier, the ones who made the ride more enjoyable. Eventually, the chances permitting us to see them every day will fall short. Neither will we take classes together, nor will eat with them at lunch. We will not be able to hang out as much as we used to, or talk to them every day. It’s sad. We will be forced to go our separate ways.
But with leaving comes the luxury of looking back on the times we spent with them.
We are all going our separate ways in a few weeks’ time. Maybe some of us will get that dream job. Maybe some of us will accept that job just to get by. Maybe some of us will apply for graduate school. Maybe some of us will travel to places they have never been before.
Maybe some of us will stay with the ones they love. Maybe some of us will continue being in each other’s lives. And maybe some of us will disappear for a time.
There are a thousand options out there, every single one with the power to change our lives. It’s not going to be the same once we get out of school. Think of it more as an opportunity to start over, but now with heavier consequences. The older we get, the higher the stakes become. The funny thing about being graduating students is realizing that we have become adults after only a few years at school. We entered college in our teens and came out as people who carry a much greater responsibility than what we had at the beginning. And we all know it’s scary out there.
But life has no written rules. It does not come with a handbook telling us what we should do by the age of 25, 30, or 40. We all have our own timeframes. We will feel lost from time to time. We will encounter difficulties in life. We will think we are trapped in our own choices. But we will embrace the challenges. We will face the obstacles. We will triumph over battles.
Who said goodbyes are frightening? They are, in some kind of way. But I guess we will never be fully prepared for what is in store for us, only brave enough to face what comes next.
We can be so many things at the same time; bold but cautious, strong-minded but soft-hearted, determined but unsure. And as we exit this stage in our lives, let’s remember who we are today, who we want to become, and who we need to be. Life will continue to be a contrasting assortment of beautiful and ugly, good and bad, right and wrong.
And remember that we got this. Because for every mistake, heartbreak, or second thought, there are second chances, new beginnings and wonderful memories. We will always rise to the occasion.
To those of us heading to graduation, we are a force to be reckoned with.