For our senior Capstone, we had to write a 6ish page paper on what we felt impacted us most while at Lee. We were told to write down the stories and experiences that changed our worldview, to describe the classes and professors that we loved and would soon be leaving, and to reflect on the success we found through the four years of our liberal arts education.
I blurted out every inane detail I could think of to make the required page count, turned it in, and thanked God that this was my last assignment for the class.
Like pretty much everything at Lee, I found mixed feelings when it came to the required Capstone class. Professors loved it and saw the true value in evaluating your academic experience and sharing it in a setting of your peers, thus making me feel guilty when I would complain to them about the class. But most students saw it as a waste of time and energy. When we should be applying to jobs and figuring out where we're moving, how we're paying for loans, and where the heck grandma will sleep during graduation weekend, we were doing presentations that were basically a reiteration of every class we'd ever taken. Half the class sat with laptops open to email drafts with resume's attached, fingers aching to hit send but hearts too scared to follow through. Some students were genuinely engaged in the class, and while I would like to think that if I had I taken the class at another time in my academic career, I would have been more mindful of the material... I'm not quite sure that's true.
I was never a great student. I was fine. I did my work, complained about the research classes, and got by. I graduated Cum Laude, so I guess I must have done something right, but the entire time I was in school I was aching to get out and get the real world experience I knew I needed. I hated taking tests and thrived in hands on classes. Any class that I didn't have to sit in a lecture, could work at my own pace, and never ever work in a group was ideal to me.
Sadly, no such class existed.
Four years have come and gone, and here I am on the other side of college thinking about what's next. I'm wondering if I should have paid more attention in Capstone, as if there was some secret to life and happiness revealed at the very moment I wasn't paying attention. I regret not being more involved in my sorority, I wish I had invested more time in my on campus job as opposed to my off campus job, and I wonder if there could have been a way to work even more jobs at once despite the fact that I'm pretty sure I almost died from overworking myself last year.
Call it post grad funk or decompressing and just straight up anxiety, but when something consumes your life for so long and then it's just gone... It kind of feels like a breakup. Like Lee sat down and had coffee with me and said "we're better off apart but I still love you and always will" and then I watch The Notebook and cry at literally every scene because I'm pretty sure true love is dead.
Don't get me wrong, Lee wasn't this fairy tale romance for me. It was hard. Emotionally, academically, spiritually, personally. I learned things about myself that I did not like, saw others in lights that were far too harsh, and struggled with who I was created to be vs. who I was becoming. I cried in professors offices (shoutout to JHolt - hey), made and lost friends, and mostly felt like I was halfway between drowning and gasping for five seconds of air most days.
But in the midst of all of that and more, I made some incredible friends. I learned what it's like to truly rely on others and to heal through community. I decided what I want to do with my life and was taught what it means to live your life on a mission for something bigger than yourself. I think back to the 18 year old who had just cut her hair too short and was sleeping on the top bunk in the tiniest room in my freshman hall and she's still here, but she's so refined. She's more decisive about her future, more aware of the world around her, and more socially conscious than ever. She is stronger and wiser and okay, way more emotional.
(College wrecked me, y'all. I cry all the time now. But in a good way.)
If we're making this a reflective blog post - which wasn't necessarily the outright intention, but here we are - then I guess I'm trying to say that there are definitely things I would have changed about my experience at Lee. It wasn't perfect, because nothing is, but it was my home for four years. And there are experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world, and wish I could go back and relive. In this post grad breakup season, I'm feeling a bit like that scared little freshman who knew absolutely nothing about anything. I'm just sitting here confused, because I saw this breakup coming but I didn't think it would be this hard. So I'm overly reflective and sentimental and unsure on if I should be sad or empowered for the future. And it's easy to let that feeling overtake you.
But you know what, at least I can come home at the end of the day and never have to do homework ever again. That pretty much makes any fear or anxiety of the future dissolve, at least for a little while.