How did this happen? When did I get this old? When did scrambling to get my requirements and thinking that problem sets were the be-all and end-all stop? When did I change into someone probably (maybe?) ready for the real world, ready for a world beyond academia? I can’t remember exactly when I decided I was ready, but I do remember the 5 million times I was going to drop out and my friends had to say, “Don’t. It’s only a year. It’s a waste if you drop out now.” I’m not sure when my outlook changed from seeing this place as a never-ending purgatory to only feeling a sense of nostalgia and “lasts,” but it did, and now I’m unbelievably sad. I was not sad to leave high school. At all. One could not be more ready to peace out from suburbia into, well, technically more suburbia than I was. I didn’t know what I wanted out of college and I only had a vague inkling of what I would major in, but I knew that if I had to live in my town and socialize with those people for another week, I’d go crazy. I love change. And yet, here I sit, a future waiting for me, and I’m sad. I hate goodbyes, and have an awful habit of just leaving a place without telling anyone, but, for once, more than anything I want to leave my goodbye, my mark, on this campus. I want to remember my last swipe into a dorm, my last Misc meeting, my last deece… well maybe not my last deece. These goodbyes feel important and significant because it’s more than goodbye to a place, it’s goodbye to a life. I don’t know life outside academia—none of us do—and that’s maybe the most terrifying thing. What do people do when they aren’t dictated by semesters and midterms? When they don’t have at least a month off in the winter to recharge? When weekends are actually weekends and not just times I still have work to do in between copious drinking? I think amazing things await me post-academia, but without any concept of a five-day work week,
it’s still pretty intimidating. But then again, the past four years were filled with more fear than I think the rest of my life can throw at me: the fear of failing, the fear of rejection, the fear that secretly all your friends hate you, I’ve done it all. I’ve cried in countless professor’s offices, had panic attacks over everything from social gatherings to a bad grade to whether or not I can afford pizza, and have gone abroad as an alternative to taking a semester off, but I’ve kept going. I’m sure I’ve got plenty of crying left to do in my life (I can cry over anything if the moment is right) and I’m not sure anything will feel as awful as my first C or my last breakup, but I got through those, and I’ll get through more.
Honestly, the only thing I’m scared of right now is walking in front of all those people at Commencement. Ten bucks says I trip or my cap falls off. So I’m going to say goodbye, for real this time. I’m going to spend my last afternoon sitting on my porch; I’m going to go waterfalling one more time; I’m going to walk through Strong once more. I’ll say goodbye to people, of course, and I’m sure I’ll cry, but I’ll see some of those people again (we’re connected on LinkedIn after all) and I’m sure I’ll get mad when I see your engagement photos on Facebook in a few years, but it’s the places I’ve grown to call home that I’ll really miss.
—Maddy Vogel is an economics major with a studio art correlate. She is the outgoing social media editor for The Miscellany News,