I told myself I would never write an “I’m so sad I’m graduating ” article or blog post or essay. I’m not planning on it when the time comes, but there is something very real about being on the brink of being on my way out. I am not who I was when I arrived here four years ago. I’m also not, as one person once told me, just “a shadow of my former self.”
After looking back at some of my own journal entries from the past 3 years, I struggled to even remember the moments when I wrote certain things down.
In 2013, I was begging for recovery from Lyme disease and an ex-boyfriend.
In 2014, my sister apparently owed me money for picking her and her drunken friends up in the middle of the night in Connecticut. I wrote, in secret, that I wouldn’t make her pay me.
2015: I admitted I don’t like being rejected and on February 4th the temperature was in the 60s.
In 2016, “This is my nightmare.”
More often and more recently, simply “I can’t sleep.” Tonight, that’s why I started writing this.
For about half of my time at Stanford, I didn’t really want to be here at all. The truth about the changes I asked for, didn’t ask for, endured, gave up on, and survived is that I knew they were changing me for good, and I hated them for it. Everything felt easier before I really felt I was growing up against my will.
When I was living in New York City, I was suddenly plagued with insomnia. I called it inexplicable. There are a thousand reasons I can think of now. Honking between my building and the next, the fan in the living room, the coffee I had at 4 P.M. Or, I was finally living alone after a hard year. I had time to look at myself and, at least at first, spent much of my time doing the opposite, just like I had at school.
Joan Didion says, “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
Isn’t it true. It’s hard to go to bed with someone you barely know; it’s harder to go to bed with a self you hardly recognize.
I started doing yoga, meditations, making art and ‘partying more responsibly’ in a cliché attempt to make some sense out of all of these racing thoughts that came at night. I came back to school and realized, somewhat suddenly, that even if I have picked up extra, god-forbidden baggage, I’m also happy. This self of mine is more solid than before, even if it’s more scarred. It’s everything I have to count on when no one else is awake and I can’t sleep.
Maybe we get sad about graduation because beyond leaving best friends and beautiful places, it’s scary to wonder whether we’ll ever have another four years where we are allowed to change with so much turbulence and abandon. It felt inappropriate when I began having panic attacks during my job in Dallas this summer; here, I call it not feeling well. I carry it around in my backpack and I don’t really care if I seem “out of it.”
I’m glad I’ve written things down through these years. Didion again, “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, and forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”
I’m leaving school with a handful of best friends, essays, and pictures, but none of that could possibly ever speak for everything that’s happened in all of our private little lives. Call me crazy, but whatever version of myself that boards a plane to the East Coast will not be the same as the girl who lands at home, 6 hours later, after graduation.
I’ve forgotten so much. That can hurt, but not as much as always wondering why things are this way. Or why it had to happen in that way. They just are and they just did. I also have much to remember, and at the end of the day I hardly need everything I have.