Mourning the Death of College- What To Expect

Death sucks. I don’t know how else to start this post other than saying how it stinks, whether it’s something you’ve had time to prepare for or not. I’ve only dealt with only two deaths in my life; my neighbor, which was very sad because my neighborhood is like a tight family, and the death of my college life.

College spends a lot of time (and freakin’ money) on preparing us for the “real world”. They teach us how to do our jobs, work with others, explore different options, and try to push us to be more independent. But what they don’t prepare you for is the feeling after your last class. The weird mixture of relief that you no longer have to buy overpriced textbooks and the sadness of leaving a lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to behind. College is beautiful because it brings together young people from all around the world to one area to mingle and befriend one another, and these are people you may never have encountered if you never went to that school (which can mean good and bad people).

It’s been a weird emotional rollercoaster for me towards the end of my senior year of college. It took me until my last year to find roommates that I truly loved, feel happy in what I now view as a unbalanced relationship, and gain confidence to enjoy my life. Though not every moment was fun, and a lot of it was really hard actually, I would never give up any of it.

This mourning period was unexpected. I miss college more than ever. I miss my friends so dearly, I miss only having to spend my money on food and drinks, and I miss having to only worry about my grades. I miss the freedom to choose to go to class or not, to spend the day running around without a care and only concerned with the next fun thing. And since college failed to mention how this roller coaster, I wanted to bring it to light for those of you who are dealing with the same thing.

For me, the emotional roller coaster started at the beginning of the last semester. I started questioning how likely some of my relationships I had were going to be meaningful enough to last past graduation. This cased many panic attacks and me lashing out. Not good. But I also like to think of this as my angry phase of mourning colleges’ certain death. I was so mad and frustrated that I wasn’t going to be able to stay put in time and just forever live life like I was. I was constantly worrying if my relationships would continue on. My first three years of college were rocky and I befriended bad people, and now that I finally found 2 roommates that were kind and fun and I really cared about, I had to leave it behind. I was so mad I couldn’t keep it forever.

By the time of graduation, my mindset flipped I thought I was ready to leave Burlington. My college boyfriend and I weren’t getting along, one of my friends lost her mind and became crazy, and I thought I was over being there. Then when it came to actually driving home, I cried the whole way. Saying goodbye to my roommates was the hardest thing to do. I love them so much and hate that I can’t live with them anymore. Though I know that there comes a point where you do have to leave college behind, you never think about it until you are actually driving away. When you see your home getting smaller in your car mirrors behind you, you begin to feel like you shouldn’t go and you’re leaving behind something so important to who you are that you shouldn’t leave. But you have to.

Once I was home, I used my time to focus on finding a job and relaxing. This was a brief numbing stage. I didn’t want to focus how sad I was to not be back in Burlington, but had a huge fear of when September came along and if I didn’t have a job-since we were young we always started school in September, so if I didn’t have something to start in the fall I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I went through a phase of trying to find a job back in Burlington, and was offered a few. I was telling everyone it was cause I missed the city and would love to be back, but subconciously I think I just wanted to try and relive the past there. Obivously that wouldn’t have turned out well, and thankfully I found a job in the city and moved here before the end of August instead of Burlington.

Now, more than halfway through September, I have reached the reminisce stage of mourning. I wish I could go back in time and be with them again. I’ve become accustomed to my life here, the 9-5, and have made a little life for myself, but I miss the simplicity of college. I miss the fun shenanigans my friends and I would get into, the movies we’d watch, and the talks we’d have. I miss school and learning something every day. I miss interacting with young people my age and pretending to care about what was happening. College is such a community like no other- literally none of us know what we are doing but we’re all going to try to get by anyways. I would rewind the clock if I could. And this is the hardest stage, because when you reminisce you constantly think about how much better it was back then compared to how it is now. It’s unhealthy, but almost unavoidable.

But one of the key things about mourning is coming full circle and phasing into acceptance. There is nothing I can do to go back in time, so now I must accept that college is over and my life is continuing on without it. I still keep in regular contact with my roommates, and I do deeply miss being with them, but I am learning to accept that this is what happens. Its very scary, and they fail to tell you about this cycle after college ends, and I wish I was more prepared for this. But I have to learn to move on from it, as everyone does.

There is so much more in life to look forward to. I can’t wait to start doing more things with mine since graduation. I think if college prepared me to miss that lifestyle this much, i’d be able to manage the departure better. They don’t emphasize how much life changes and how college truly is the best years of your life. And who knows, maybe in a few years i’ll think differently once I get more experience in life afterwards. But mourning college is okay to do. Leaving that life behind sucks but has to be done, and the quicker you are to accepting this, the faster you are at starting the next exciting phase of your life. -MB

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