It’s a struggle, sometimes a daily one. You knew on graduation day that getting over college wouldn’t be easy and now it’s the time of year when everyone else goes back. Four years of students are moving in and you’re not one of them. You sit on the subway or your couch and think about the freshmen meeting their roommates, sophomores decorating their rooms, juniors finalizing schedules, and seniors partying off campus. It’s all happening today, without you.
None of them make it easy for you. You bury yourself in Labor Day plans, but you can’t go more than a few hours without seeing a photo or reading a post from someone on campus. It hits you that your school has moved on, whether you have or not. Was college everything you hoped it would be? Everything you saw in your parents’ old photographs and in Van Wilder? Whatever your experience, that was it. That was college. It’s over.
At first you try to hold on to it as best you can. You visit campus and immerse yourself in the songs, photographs, and people from those years. But soon a distance starts to grow between you and those things once familiar. They become uncanny and you’re too overwhelmed with the change to speak or swallow. It hurts in your throat and gut.
So you start to push it away. The visits stop and you spend less time with school friends. Your freshman year roommate’s invitation to catch up goes unanswered. Letters from the alumni club are left unopened. You try to make new friends and memories so that by the time move-in day comes around, you’re too busy or out of the loop to notice or care. Eventually you have a new crew and new clothes and “last year” refers to a time in your life after graduation.
That mentality only lasts for some time. How long can you avoid your school friends before you lose them for good? How long can you stay away from campus before there’s no one left to visit? How long until you’re desperately trying to recover the memories you worked so hard to forget?
Acceptance was not only the letter that started your college experience, but it’s also the key to coming to terms with its ending. Rather than attempting to recreate or push away those college years, accept them for what they were and move on. It’s okay to reminisce, to visit, to miss it. But work on building new relationships and forming memories that won’t replace the old ones so much as hold a different meaning. On move-in day, take a moment to be excited for those experiencing what you once did, then continue going about your happy post-grad life.