A teacher in high school told me once, “college is where you get to keep being a kid for four years before you have to get into the real world.” In some ways, this is completely true. I’m already dreading having to work for eight hours straight with no time to nap. Having no obligations on Fridays has also been a great perk of college. My fellow seniors and I have definitely joked about how ill-prepared we feel for the real world. Personally I feel that the fact that I don’t know how to change a tire or what exactly a 401K is disqualifies me from being an adult, and I really don’t know how they’re letting me get a diploma without knowing such things. However I have learned so much in my time at Vassar—both in subjects I expected to learn about as well as some things I didn’t. I’m sure everybody says that, I mean who doesn’t learn anything in college? But it’s true. I have been blessed with amazing professors and fantastic friends who have been patient with me and have given me a completely new perspective on life, on politics and just about everything else. There have also been not so great people I’ve encountered, and great friends who are not currently close to me—in the physical sense anyway. From these experiences I’ve learned not to take everything so personally, and I’ve learned how to make the best out of what life gives you.
Because as awesome as my four years at Vassar have been, there have been a lot of hard times as well. I’m sure this is true for most of us graduating in different ways. For me, I came to Vassar thinking I’d be an athlete, have athlete friends and go to athlete parties. This was how my freshman year started, but for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to my lack of coordination and lack of an intimidating presence on the field, my college career did not turn out the way I had planned. But I was lucky enough to live close to people who became my closest friends, and I am so incredibly grateful for that. This change in plans also let me explore other activities at Vassar, including the beautiful paper you’re reading right now, which has taken up a lot of my mental energy, time and sleep but has been worth every single second. I could list out all the other difficult events that I’ve dealt with in my time at Vassar, and then I could balance all of those out with amazing experiences that have been fulfilling and inspiring. But that would be boring and not worth reading anyway. Suffice it to say, there have been some ups and downs. You might not necessarily come out stronger from the hard times, but you get to know yourself better, and you realize what you’re capable of doing. I’ve dreaded leaving Vassar for a long time.
As someone who’s not from the East Coast, I know I’m going to be separated from some of my friends. I’ve gotten used to being within walking distance from the people I care about and whose company I enjoy. I’m not excited for the times when I’ll have to try to catch up via text or Facebook. Though Vassar has done its best to prepare me for the real world, I’ve spent this last semester trying to figure out what I’m going to do in the next few years, and I still don’t quite have what you would call a “plan” or a “job.” A lot of well-meaning people have told me that everything will fall into place somehow, but being a planner and an anxious person has made me pretty impatient, and I would really like things to fall into place sooner rather than later. However I have learned at Vassar that hard work almost always pays off. So does taking care of yourself, which is equally important. It isn’t enough to spend hours and hours on papers without taking time to keep your sanity. And even if I didn’t get the 30+ jobs I applied to, I can at least take pride in knowing that I sent in all those applications, and maybe reward myself with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s per cover letter, which is a reasonable ratio I think. Living in the moment has always been hard for me, but it’s the approach you have to take, especially in the context of college. As much
as I don’t want these four years to end, I’m happy that I have had many many moments I can look back on and laugh or smile, or do both while shaking my head. It can be difficult not to constantly try to figure out what I’m going to do next, and senior year has been full of those “lasts”—your last Halloweekend, your last winter at Vassar, your last final, and so on. As meaningful as those times can be when they’re given the importance as being designated as “last,” there are plenty more that you won’t even see coming. Sometimes you don’t know that that time you and your friends got dressed up and went out was going to be the last time you would all be together for the weekend. But that doesn’t make it any less important or fun. I’ve forced myself to realize that dreading my goodbyes only makes it harder to enjoy the people who are still with me. If I had to sum up these four years in a quote, it would be the one that my parents gave me in a frame when they first dropped me off at Vassar: “She was not where she had been, she was not where she was going, but she was on her way.”
—Meaghan Hughes is a psychology major. She has held multiple positions on The Miscellany News, including Contributing Editor, Senior Editor and Sports Editor.