Walking south of campus with my sweet shades on and headphones in blocking out the darties nearby, I strut down the street in a fantastic mood, leaving my winter blues behind me. Welcome to springtime in Ann Arbor, which essentially means summer, where people wear basically no clothes even in 60-degree weather, spend all their time outside and avoid all of their school work. I was feeling quite dramatic and nostalgic listening to my graduation-themed Spotify playlist, “sad sad end of an eraaaaa” when I approached my beloved cooperative house. I stopped on the sidewalk looking at my home for a moment and smiled knowing for the first time that I was ready to leave her.
After a few months of panicking about post-graduation plans and being immersed in so many enjoyable last events with my close friends, I have come to a new place of confidence, security and acceptance about graduating. With only a few weeks left, I have been reflecting on my time here and comparing my current self to the version who first enrolled in college. Looking back, I was a real “know it all,” thinking nothing would change about myself in college. I really thought I wasn’t learning anything new from my classes and even wrote a column about how I wanted to graduate early so I could just begin a master’s program in something I actually wanted to study. Re-reading this, even though it felt so real to me at the moment, I find it funny how I didn’t think I could learn, evolve or grow more from the rest of my time in undergrad.
Now, I find myself with no post-graduation plans probably due to procrastinating job and program applications out of the fear of making a decision too quickly that could change my life. I wouldn’t say I am particularly bad at change. I am a flexible person who loves being spontaneous, not having a plan and figuring things out with limited time. I lived in a cooperative house for the past two and a half years where the people and culture have transformed every semester. However, knowing there is a date approaching when my day-to-day life will be inevitably different makes this transition time even scarier and emotional.
When I entered college, I was always confused about why everyone called it the best years of their life because I was pretty miserable, even after I transferred to the University of Michigan in search of a better experience. The transition was more difficult than I had predicted but gave me the shift in my college experience I was looking for. With time and putting myself outside my comfort zone, I was satisfied with my new community of friends, activities and classes. Even if I didn’t feel like I was evolving and changing, every class, new friendship and experience helped me to grow and create the person I see myself as today.
Though I know my next transition will look and feel different from my transition from one university to another, this experience has prepared me to take on new challenges. Hopefully, with some time and distance from being a student this summer, I can enter post-college life in search of a plan or job that will lead me into the “real world.” But I think this time, I’m aware of how hard this transition is going to be and the time it takes to deal with new situations, trying new things that are uncomfortable and building a new community.
At the end of last month, I watched the finale of my all-time favorite show on television, “Broad City," which showed two best friends who had to move away from each other due to new opportunities. It could have not been timelier because I have quickly realized the saddest part of graduating will be losing my everyday community of my soulmates, besties, friends and casual acquaintances that are a short walk away. My social life and community I spent the last years building will look different after graduation, and it was already impacted last May when several of my close friends graduated. I came to this morbid conclusion that in college, your friends leave you and eventually you will leave as well. Though it is so upsetting to think this way, it is important to realize this period of life is very temporary. We may have the technology to stay in contact but things will never be the same as they are right now.
Throughout my time at the University, all of the relationships I gained have already impacted who I am, the decisions I made in my time here and those I’ll make in the future. I know it sounds sappy, but I truly feel grateful to my friends for showing me how to be confident in my skills and to love and take care of myself during stressful times in college. They introduced me to the different communities I joined here on campus like my cooperative house, which gave me an instant community with like-minded individuals who became my family, and The Michigan Daily, where I realized I could be a writer. Being a columnist and a former editor in the Opinion section allowed me to reflect on my experiences and gave me a platform to write about things I cared about.
So now, reaching the end, every time I hear someone say the number of days we have left in this semester it makes me quite nauseous, and most of the time my reflex is to yell “shut up!” But even with all of these feelings, I’m still looking forward to my future experiences wherever I end up. Even if they may not be as exciting as the last four years, it's important to remember that undergrad is only temporary.
Ellery Rosenzweig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.