We are here. We’ve made it. We’ve crossed the line.
April 29th, 2017. Today I watched many of my residents move out. I watched friends walk across the graduation stage, grins eating up their entire faces as they took a leather-bound piece of paper into their hands; a piece of paper they’ve been waiting 4 years for. I watched strangers cry and hug each other before getting into their cars and driving away.
April 29th, 2016, and I, too, cried as my mom drove me away from school for the final time. I dreaded the lonely summer awaiting me.
My freshman year at college had been, at that point, the best year of my life. And I still think that title stands.
I didn’t think I would be emotional at the end of my sophomore year. I’m not really going anywhere. I’m working on campus with my best friends this summer, so I’m not leaving them. I’m not being totally disconnected from the world and people I spent nine months buried in.
Sure, I may not be leaving, but a lot of other people are.
Yet here I am. I’m cleaning out my room in the freshmen dorms and getting ready to make the move across the street to my apartment later in May. I’m taking down the decorations I put up for my floor. Taking down my last bulletin board, my posters, the nametags left behind.
And I’m just thinking.
I don’t know if I’m sad or I’m happy or what I’m feeling. I just know I’m thinking. About everything that’s happened in the past nine months.
I became an RE after two weeks of extensive training. I met some of my favorite people in the entire world and got to call them my staff. Together, I felt like we could conquer anything. But I let my residents down. Then I went to the ends of the earth for a few. I made shitty films and I made some good ones. I got to go places I’ve never been before. I isolated myself a lot. I let my mental illnesses get the best of me. I kicked myself for being full of self-pity. I made mistakes. I got lucky a lot. I experienced grief and bereavement in their purest, most painful forms. My faith was shaken to its very core. I turned in assignments I BSed in thirty minutes and felt genuinely embarrassed to show my professors. I slaved for weeks over film projects. I questioned who I was – both as a professional and as a person. I let go of large parts of myself that I never anticipated letting go of. Sometimes it felt great. Sometimes it felt…not so great. I gained. I lost. I grew in all sorts of directions.
I fell in and out of love with people and ideas and I learned that there are two sides to the world, and that it is important to try and see both in order to grow.
And while I will never be an optimist (I’m missing the gene completely for that one), I like to think there are parts of me in there somewhere that believe everything can’t be that bad. If anything, we’ve got to make something out of the pain we go through so that it’s not all in vain.
The pain is there. It always will be. Whether it’s stems from heartbreak, loss, change, emptiness, or something else, sometimes it just doesn’t leave. Is that okay? I want to say yes, but the truth is, I don’t know. The biggest thing that I learned about myself this year is that I am constantly guilty about everything I feel. I’m guilty if I’m happy, sad, or indifferent; whatever emotion I’m feeling is wrong and I should not be feeling it. Or at least that’s what my brain tells me. But I am working on it, and there are people out there helping me.
My sophomore year of college, from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017, existed as it was. There is no going back to change it now. The good happened, the bad happened, and the ugly happened.
Here’s to summer, which will be full of work and play alike, and to my junior year.
Let’s see what happens.