It’s the amount of time that SUNY Fredonia’s graduating Class of 2013 now has between the publication of this article and the last step, both literally and metaphorically, of their undergraduate careers.
Naturally, this being my last “From the Desk of…” will require it to contain paragraph upon paragraph of clichéd, depressing ruminations upon the last four years I’ve spent at this school and how they apply in some convoluted way to the unfathomable uncertainty that lay in front of me. As much as I wanted to prevent myself against writing such a thing when I finally got to this point, I’ve come to the realization that hackneyed reflection is essentially all that remains when the path behind you is so trodden with life experiences, both good and bad, and the one in front is so filled with vagueness and ambiguity.
A year ago at this time, I was that person scoffing at the idea of being pensive upon graduating. I couldn’t wait to be done with school and the thought of paying an institution so that I could sit in a chair for hours a day being lectured, based off a curriculum largely dictated to me by that institution, utterly repulsed me. To some degree, I still have a heavy cynicism directed at the capitalist educational system and toward the fact that it is in every regard a business, the primary concern of which is profit.
But amidst all of the other comprehensions that arrive as a result of the maturation process of becoming a graduating senior, I’m now conscious of the fact that one’s college experience is a whole lot more than tedious lecture halls, overwhelming weeks you’d like to forget and weekends you jubilantly can’t remember. An education in its totality comprises more than just esoteric facts and numbers that bear little relevance to the rigors of the real world, but instead, it consists of varied concepts, philosophies, and approaches to critical thinking that remain with you long after you’ve closed the textbook and put the pen down.
When you come to the end of your four-year journey, even the monotonous route you take to class each day becomes an emotional trigger that initiates a recollection of deep-seated memories. You come to realize that the campus as is it exists in its physical presence means more to you than brick-and-mortar boundaries. Every nook and cranny, every seemingly mundane vicinity holds greater sentimental significance depending on the eyes through which they’re viewed – that classroom in Thompson where you thought about saying, “hey,” but could never muster the courage, the spot in Willy C that you and your friends occupied for the better part of four years where you’d eat terrible food while laughing hysterically and forget the tribulations of your workload, or that suite room in Grissom where you slowly opened the door and locked eyes for the first time with your soul mate.
Such experiences may come to mean even more to you when you realize that they are uniquely yours, and not yours at all. They belong to a higher collective conscious that represents the college experience as a whole, one that is shared by every student going through this same hedge maze.
We all want to know where we belong within the chaos that governs this world, whether the work we’re doing now will facilitate perceived success, or whether we’ve chosen a path that will allow us to be remembered after we’re gone.
We’ve all had drunken reflections during the walk home from the bar in which we’ve looked up at the night sky and wondered about our place amongst the infiniteness of the universe. When the pulsing of Saturday night’s music has faded and when the alcoholic euphoria diminishes, we want to know who we are and become skeptical of our life situations. It’s during these times that we yearn for companionship as the only antidote for the void of loneliness we feel needs to be filled. But it’s worth noting that these feeling of inadequacy and underachievement are part of the human condition, and even more so, part of the college experience.
As someone who has run out of time being a “kid,” with the luxury of making “dumb decisions” and chalking them up to the exuberance of childhood and the naïveness of immaturity, take it from me: relish every single moment, every single experience of the time you have left here. There is truth in the philosophy of “living for the moment.” In a world that is filled with war, terrorism and disease, it’s often daunting and altogether intimidating upon the thought of living in it. Yet it is this very fragility, this uncertainty that makes every moment beautiful and more importantly, worth living.
To those seeking to stay an extra semester or continue with grad school not for academic purposes, but to prolong the often lackadaisical collegiate experience or simply to treasure a few more weekends of BJ’s $1 wells or EBC’s Blueberry, realize that such attempts to consume our own version of adolescent immortality are only denying the inevitable. It’s our mortal nature as both humans and college students with the end always in plain sight that should be cause for appreciation for the short time we have.
I recall counting down the days until I received my diploma, and I’m now in the midst of wishing for them never to end. Absorb every second of your college existence and cherish even the crappiest of days. Time and mortality are unforgiving and indiscriminate. You will never be in this moment again.
Before you scorn the abrasive weekend warrior “bros” that live down the hall, or find insufferable the hipster intellectuals that spite them, who stay in on a Friday night to watch Italian neo-realist films, recognize and appreciate that we’re all on this merry-go-round together. We simply have to have the confidence and the courage to get off when the ride stops in order to let the new riders on.