Four years ago around this time, I packed up my mom’s car with my belongings and drove 12 hours to Nashville, Tennessee for college. I remember the flurry of feelings I felt (say that ten times fast!) on the long drive. By the time the morning of move in arrived, I was teeming with excitement to go out on my own and start my college career.
These past few days I’ve been seeing a lot of photos of my younger friends as they return to campus and continue the traditions of back to school. I’ve also gotten Facebook friendship anniversary videos for the girls I met on my floor those first few days of freshman year, who are now my closest friends - as if I need yet another reminder that I’m not 18 anymore.
I think I am struggling to grasp the concept that I’m not going back to school. At first I was annoyed at myself for feeling sappy and nostalgic (my robotic tendencies get in the way of feeling emotions sometimes), but then I realized that every fall for the past 16 years, I’ve gone back to school. Further, my “norm” for the past four years has been going back to Vanderbilt around this time, so why would my mindset think any different this year? I think my heart and my head have trouble accepting that I’m done with undergrad, done with school, and moving on to adult life.
While the reminders of missing my friends and being surrounded by familiar faces on campus may be disheartening, my other epiphany that is actually quite obvious is the fact that I’m never going back. There is no undergrad part two, and while grad school may be in the cards for me, the experience is unlike undergrad. For me, it’s coming to terms with the fact that the college phase of my life is over and done with. There is no last hurrah, that’s already come and gone. And while I lived with intention my senior year, trying to soak in the present moments and be grateful for my wonderful, crazy final year of college, there is still a part of me that longs to go back for one more Saturday night at Crazytown, one more sorority chapter meeting, and one last shitty lunch at the dining hall with friends.
After thinking about why I feel so nostalgic and emotional about this transition, one reason I think that I feel this way is because of my current status in between school and work. If I had already started my job, I would be bustling with excitement over the novelty of my role, learning new skills, and making friends. Instead, I’m going on walks around my neighborhood, reading books, and hanging out with old friends. This slower pace of life (which I talk more about HERE!) gives me plenty of time to reflect. After all of this thinking, I came back to something I have thought about in the past, which is my interest in eventually becoming a college professor. I have a serious love of school (#nerdalert), love learning, and seek to teach and inspire others, as people have done for me. Another possibility is that I could go back to school for a graduate degree, which would definitely give me that giddy back to school feeling.
On the bright side, my friends from the other side (aka working life) promise that it gets better and being a functioning, actual adult is pretty damn good. I guess I’ll have to report back in a few months to say if I agree with them!