I’ve been wanting to write a post about finishing my undergrad but I have been far too emotionally unstable to handle the challenge of coming up with self deprecating material… but alas here we are.
People say your time at university is the best four years of your life, which genuinely terrifies me to hear considering in the past four years I’ve made like two close friends, and gained 30 pounds. If this is my peek in life then god fucking help me.
I’m overcome with sadness about the ending of this chapter of my life. I refuse to accept that this sadness is nostalgia and have finally accepted that it is indeed regret. Surely I could have made better use of the past 1,460 days/35,040 hours.
I embarked on my undergrad career as most do: at the hot dog pep rally, face adorned in face-paint, sporting a god-awful FROSH t-shirt. I had fun, I made friends, and I tucked myself into my Bed Bath and Beyond bed in a bag dorm room special with a smile of success plastered on my little face.
First year went along fine, I did all the normal freshman type things but with an odd emphasis on food. I preferred going to potlucks over pre-drinks, and always used the drunk trip to Shawarma King as my main motivator when deciding whether or not to go to parties. For the first and only time in my life I had all these friends, and felt like I belonged or would be missed if I wasn’t around. I was happy, and overweight, but most notably I was happy.
The first half of second year I lived in denial of being in the greatest sophomore slump of all time. My closest friends dropped out of school, and I was unknowing lonely. I started going to group therapy because my problems weren’t severe enough to warrant the complimentary university funded one on one therapy for people with REAL problems. Group therapy was only helpful because I got to hear how bad other people’s lives were, and I realized my shit wasn’t actually so bad after all. Whoever said comparison is the thief of joy never attended university group therapy.
Third year I moved to Paris for 6 months which was definitely the highlight of my undergrad and debatably the highlight of my life. My time abroad is simultaneously the thing that I am least regarded and most mocked for amongst my friends and acquaintances. Studying abroad in Paris sounds like an Elle Woods/sorority fetish to most, but in reality, it was nothing of the sort. Living in Paris changed my perspective on a lot of things. I was forced to find comfort in my loneliness, and began to admire the beauty in intelligence. I was proud of myself for the first time, in a real way. I wasn’t just making someone else proud but I had accomplished something I’d always wanted to do for no one else but myself. I felt like I was honouring my younger self’s aspirations – which felt güd.
Ever since moving back I felt lost with how to spend my remaining year. The fourth and final year is a hard path to navigate. Without considering any other options, I signed a contract for a full-time, big girl, salary job. Partly because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and partly because the thought of having no plans beyond graduation was paralyzing.
And now my time has run out, and I can’t help but feel there is more I should have done. I stayed within the lines. I went to the free tutoring, the free counselling, I pet the therapy dogs when I was sad, and went to frat party’s when I wasn’t. I was acknowledged and awarded for my hard work, all to reinforce my path to success. It’s like I’ve been subconsciously checking off items on a to-do list, that would lead me to a comfortable life. But now that it’s all been checked off I am faced with the discomfort that is a comfortable life. Perhaps it is just the disconnect of being twenty-one and trying to think for yourself, or know who you are, that has left me feeling like I’ve come up short in some way.
I wish I had created something tangible to ensure the past four years would not dissipate and become forgotten. I wish I could say I put my blood, sweat and tears into something meaningful. A project, a capstone or a thesis or something. Something that I would talk about over coffee with friends, I would sigh and tell them how I had worked tirelessly all night. How I came out stronger than I ever was before. I wish I had these mentors who had seen my potential all along and cheered me on from the side lines as I grew to discover it for myself.
I feel as though I was always waiting. Adults kept telling me things were about to get really good. And I waited. And fourth year approached and waiting turned into panicking, and panicking turned into sadness. Sadness that is now regret. I kept waiting for that moment that I was walking with my friend group on campus, at sunset, eating ice cream, linking arms and laughing. These plans we had made over group chat, where we all had nicknames for each other. We were constantly connected, and I still belonged, and I would still have been missed. But the waiting is over, and the time has run out.
I think after all this I had anticipated I’d feel more complete, that I would be known – by others and to myself. It cannot be said whether or not a thesis or a friend group complete with a group chat could have ever made this experience feel whole. Although I accomplished great things, and honoured aspirations, a part of me feels that there was always more that I neglected to explore. Perhaps that is just the nature of life. An ever lasting sense of incompletion- as it may be we are immortally unknown.
Alas I did take a psychology class during my time at university, and learned about the hindsight bias. For you uneducated folk that basically means that when you’re looking back at things, your faults seem so obvious, but at the time you did the best you could. Or something like that. I think I was just like a terrified 17 year old, afraid of failing who did my best, and took peoples advice and drank a lot of water and got 8 hours of sleep, and didn’t do drugs or have sex with strangers.
Part of me wonders if the only way to salvage all this is to travel to Thailand and do drugs at a half-moon party and like really FIND MYSELF – but at this point, even that would be far too predictable.