Graduating, Whether I Like It or Not

graduatingI’m graduating from college in a few weeks. The past four years might have seemed slow when they were passing, but now, cliché as it sounds, it feels like no time has passed at all. I got decent grades, and assuming everything goes as planned, I should be going to grad school in the fall.

At this point, I’m just trying to fit in as much as I can. The closer graduation day gets, the more urgency I feel. Time is running out. A part of my life is ending. I won’t see the same people anymore; I won’t be in the same place. Everything will be different.

As I’ve tried to make my last few weeks at college meaningful, different impulses have fought within me. Of course, I need to spend time on homework, even as the senioritis grows stronger. I’ve also been caught between my desires to have fun, make memories, and engage with my community as much as I can while I’m here.

I’ve become really connected to the community over the past four years, both the people and the social issues they face. My volunteer experiences have been some of the most meaningful events of my time at college, and there is a part of me that is feeling the pressure to “leave this place better than I found it,” and to try to fit in as much time helping the community as I can before I go.

I also want to hang out with my friends. I want to go to the beach. I want to go to coffee shops and play Frisbee. I want to make memories with my friends, while we’re all still in the same place at the same time. Because after all, college only happens once, right? When can I do these things again?

Lately I’ve been thinking about how these impulses could extend into all of life. Our days are limited, and so we have to answer the question: “How will I spend my time here?”

In modern culture, there’s a lot of pressure to live the most amazing and exciting life at breakneck speed. We can scroll through any social media platform and see the perfect #food, #vacation, or #skydiving experience that everyone else seems to be having. We are afflicted with FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, which compels us to fit in as many festivities as we can, so we can keep up with everyone else.

But when we start prioritizing quantity over quality, and the photo and filter over the experience, something precious can be lost.

Life is made of exciting moments, yes. They can shake and shape your world for years to come. But life is also made of the little moments.

What if tomorrow, instead of worrying about how many friends I can see or how much fun I can fit in, I wake up and just decide to live? What if I drink my coffee not for the caffeine, but because I want to enjoy the taste? What if I appreciate the blooming flowers not for the photo I could take, but because they’re beautiful? What if I volunteer not so that I can feel like a better person, but because I want to listen and serve? What if I spend time with my friends not so I can feel more social, but simply to enjoy their company and strengthen my relationships? What kind of day would I have? What kind of life would I live? What kind of person would I be?

I can do my best to live my last few weeks at college to the fullest, but maybe living them to the fullest really means just living. Maybe it means really being grateful for the ways I’m blessed and marveling at the beauty in the people around me. Maybe living fully really means loving fully. Maybe life is really just about love, and when everything else passes away, that is what lasts.