I understand. I watch you standing uncomfortably in your cap and gown, unsure of the outfit and all that it means. I see the frenzied packing, having a million things you'd rather do instead of cram four years into boxes and suitcases. You're excitedly introducing your parents to a favorite professor, showing them all the places you had classes, met friends, found your way. And I remember it fondly. It was five years ago--long enough to merit a bit of nostalgia, but not so long that I've forgotten it all.
And then. The end. It's all different on Sunday afternoon, after you've flipped that tassel to the left. As I walk around my beloved campus, I witness countless goodbyes. They run the gamut--some are loud, laughing, spinning hugs full of excitement and proclamations about visiting. Others are still, quiet, tearful. They all break my heart because I understand. None of this will help, but trust me--I get it. I was you, remember? And I know you're sad for so many reasons--your whole life is changing. You're leaving this life you've created, only to create a new one. Scary. But you'll do it. You'll do it well, too. Because even though it's terrifying, that's the best part. I was scared shitless because I didn't even know where to start on that new journey.
I remember feeling like I was parceling out my heart, leaving a bit of it with each goodbye. My college friends were my family--the family I chose, who could easily (and probably should have) left me at any time. But they stayed. So to leave them, knowing that tomorrow they would be across the country and not across the hall? Was not ok.
But here's the dirty little secret, the part no one tells you: it's not over. No, you won't have dinner together every night and Sunday brunch. But you'll see each other. You'll travel. You'll meet up. You'll find the time. And if you're lucky, like me, every time you're together it'll feel like no time has passed. You'll pick right up where you left off. You'll remember what each other orders to eat, make fun of the same things, and go home with a plastic Spongebob Squarepants in your luggage.
You won't believe me now, because you're a Graduate now and you don't need the wisdom of an alum--and it all sounds crazy anyway. But trust me on this--the world is not ending.**
It's just starting.
**It's not ending because you graduated, anyway. It's ending because of the Rapture, but that would have happened no matter what. You shouldn't be blamed for that one, guys.