As this article is published, I have a week-and-a-half left in my traditional college career. It’s been a non-traditional journey, but I’ve spent much of my last two-and-a-half years in Big Rapids at Ferris. The only felling this brings me is relief.
There isn’t any last-minute realization that, no matter what I told myself, I loved this place all along. I don’t find myself gazing wistfully at FLITE or lingering sadly on that thing that looks like a goal post by the music building.
I’ve had one foot out the door since the first time I stepped foot in this town, and now the other one, wedged in there for years, has kicked itself free and followed its brother through.
I’ve found lifelong friends at Ferris, and I’ve made some of the best and blurriest memories in my brief life in Big Rapids. I wasn’t a bitter loner; I’ve felt accepted in ways I never have been before in life. I’ve been given many reasons to love this place, yet I don’t.
I don’t feel bad for that. I love and will miss many people here, and my program, but there will be no longing for the old days. My heart and mind are free of bittersweet reflection.
That is my experience. It’s valid and it’s important to me. Another important thing: mine is not the only experience.
Many people, on that Saturday in December, on a Saturday next May and on many graduation days in the future, will miss this place. They are proud Bulldogs. They will cry beautiful, joyful tears tinged with sadness, for this time in their life that has come to an end. Not evolving, the way it has going from one year to another. It’s finished, and it won’t be coming back.
Their lives here were every bit as valid as mine, however they spent their time. I am likely the outlier. They will smile and laugh and cry for what they’ve lost, and it will be beautiful. I will not do those things, but that, too, is beautiful in a way. Each of our experiences was vital and important, however personal that level of significance may be. They are next to nothing on a grand level, these individual experience of one class in a single school in a sprawling country. But in the small space each of us lives and dies in, our individual experience can be everything.
I will happily leave this place, whole and unmoved and that is wonderful. Others will leave willingly, happily, but with pieces of their heart left behind to feed more earnest future reminiscence, and that, too, is wonderful. Every person and every experience is different, and every one of them matters.
Graduating feels like more of a formality, a dumb, slight ceremony preempting other, more important things in life. And it is that, understand. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the event, not only for the piece of paper it will provide me, but also for the positive, negative, or non-existent emotions it will bring to us all. This place may not be important to me, but the significance of this time to the lives of many people is not something lost on me.