It can’t be May already. It just can’t be.
I don’t cry. Ask anyone who knows me. It’s just not something I do.
But this week, for (I think) the first time in my life, I woke up crying. My dream made me sob. Long story short, I was dreaming about my roommate moving out. It didn’t help that she was no longer friends with me after leaving, but that pretty much sums up how I feel about what’s coming up this month.
Again: I’m not a crier. But it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m going to need some waterproof mascara over the next two weeks.
Because it makes me sick to think that that’s all that’s left. Two weeks. Actually, not even: Graduation is in 12 days.
And yeah, there’s a lot to be excited about. Like, you know, real life. And the career I’ve worked toward for the past four years. And not ever again having to go to class or work into the morning or spend a Sunday doing nothing but homework. And traveling to visit my friends. And meeting new people. And earning a salary.
But right now, I can’t even think about those good things. For one, I’m not actually finished. I have a thesis to complete before I get my degree (a master’s this time), and that’s not going to happen until July, at the earliest. So I’m not yet to that celebration phase. I’m in the everyone’s-leaving-me phase.
To clarify, I am still going to walk in May, partly because there is no August graduation, but mostly because this is my class. These are the people I started with at this school, and these are the people I’ve spent four years getting to know and love.
Which is why this graduation is going to be totally different from last year’s. Last year I walked across the stage, received a diploma and felt nothing. I had one good friend leaving. It was a purely academic experience. This year, I don’t get that academic relief; I just get the knowledge that college is over and my friends are moving away. It will be a purely emotional experience.
It’s not that I don’t think it’s normal to be sad at graduation, and it’s not that I’m not excited for the things to come. But when someone says to me, ‘Why are you worried — you have a job?’ I’m left thinking they just don’t get it.
This year — and this semester — have been the best ones of my life. I have worked as hard as ever at school, but I’ve also had an absolute blast. I have become closer than ever with my closest friends — to the point that I trust these people with my life and want to be with them all the time and can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t ever met them. I have made so many great memories and continued making the most of life in Columbia, Mo. It occurred to me the other day just how much I owe to the person who mailed me my first flier about Mizzou — that’s a great mindset to have at the end of my four years here.
But that’s also what makes it so hard to see it end: This has been the best semester ever. And now it’s almost over. What’s more, there are people I have met and become friends with this semester that I absolutely adore, and it kills me to think that I spent three and half years on this campus not knowing them. I can’t help but think about the friendships I missed out on and how many more great experiences we could have had.
And I know that these amazing, wonderful, life-changing people will stay in my life. I’m not at all worried that I won’t stay in touch with the people who matter and who make me so incredibly happy. It’s more that I can’t bear the thought of not seeing them daily or weekly or whatever it is. Thinking that the three people who make me smile on a daily basis aren’t going to be living under the same roof as I am come June (mid-May for one) makes me feel ill. Thinking that I will never again sing with the most wonderful and talented musicians I’ve ever been lucky enough to know makes me want to cry. Thinking that I am down to two weekends for going out with the hilarious, ridiculous group of people that I’ve come to call my friends makes me … i don’t know … angry, sad, scared, frustrated … all at the same time.
The fact that my friends came from homes all over the country and will move to new homes in all different places also doesn’t make this any easier. We don’t have a home base anymore; we might not ever all be in the same place ever again. But that I can spin into excitement about all the traveling I’ll get to do — and all the hotels I won’t have to pay for — throughout my life. In fact, I’m already planning my first visits to Colorado, New York and Washington, D.C.
As for my own move, I know I’ll be okay. I’m moving to a state where I don’t know a soul under the age of 40, but my college experience has given me the confidence and strength to have faith that I will love my job, I will meet great new people, and I will continue to find happiness and success wherever my path takes me. But right now — I guess because I’m not moving yet — I can’t get myself to focus on that. I’m just dreading the end that is suddenly so close.
So I’m trying not to think about it (clearly, that’s not working). I’m deciding to make these last two weeks the best days of the best semester of my college years. I’m thanking God for my friends who aren’t leaving just yet. I’m planning to have an absolute blast with them in the weeks before I leave (and then, when I say goodbye to then, I’ll be a mess again).
And most of all, I’m really hoping that all the people I’m talking about know who they are and what they mean to me. Because in the past four years, they have truly changed my life, they have made Mizzou my home, and they have become my world.
And now I’m crying.