I remember being told when I was a Senior in high school that I should enjoy college because it was going to be over before I knew it. Of course, in my infinite wisdom as a 17 year old boy, I thought this was the dumbest advice I had ever received. “There is no way four years is going to go by quickly,” I said. At the time, four years seemed soooo long, and as I moved into my dorm room, the furthest thing from my mind was graduating.
But here I am. A college graduate. An alumnus…Whoops.
One moment you’re decorating your dorm room wall, the next you’re saying goodbye to the landlord that you never got along with. One moment you’re sitting down for your first college class, the next you’re hugging the professor that put up with you for two semesters in a row. One moment you’re walking on stage to perform in a Sing act, the next you’re walking on stage to receive your diploma.
Amidst all of the “firsts” of college, you don’t think about the “lasts” that will follow in their stead. You don’t think that dinner with your roommates will stop being a regular occurrence. You don’t realize that walking down the street to see friends won’t always be a possibility, and you fail to prepare yourself for the fact that you will one day be leaving the two-block radius that holds the people you’re closest with. But how was I supposed to know that?
How was I supposed to prepare for college to end? I tried to enjoy the time that I had. I tried to savor every moment because I think the advice I received my Senior year of high school finally made sense to me these last couple of months. However, at that point it was too late. I tried to slow down, to enjoy, to appreciate the fleeting moments I had, but then all of a sudden I was sitting in my fully-packed car driving north on the highway with the school buildings in my rearview mirror.
My initial response is to lament the fact that I didn’t have more time because that’s what I want, right? If I just had a few more weeks, then I would be ready to go. I only need a little bit longer with my friends, but I’ll be ready to leave soon. At least, that’s what I kept saying, but the thing is, delaying a departure doesn’t make it easier. At some point, you have to wake up and realize that the best isn’t behind you.
Graduating college is the end of a great chapter, yes, but it’s the beginning of an even better one. The world is my oyster, right? I only tried oyster once, and I thought it was gross, but people keep saying this phrase to me with a hopeful look in their eyes, so yeah. The world is my oyster! Bring it on. Open up the doors. Clear the paths. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going where I want. Just because I have experienced the peak of a mountain, that doesn’t mean I am going to stop climbing. The adventure of life is more than one mountain, and I have a lot of climbing left to do.
So yes, college is over. I said bye to my friends, and I drove away without any knowledge of when I will return. It was hard to leave, but I am so thankful for the adventure that the last four years have been. I have learned countless lessons and been blessed by countless relationships that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And while I will look back over college with a full heart, I don’t anticipate that I will spend much time looking back. Life is meant to be viewed through the windshield, not the rearview mirror, so I’m thankful for what was, but I’m excited to drive on to the next mountain.