Blog,  Life

Why College Shouldn’t Be the BEST 4 Years of Your Life (+My Graduation Cap)

I hate when people say that college is the best 4 years of your life. Like after I graduate then life only goes downhill? That seems unbelievably sad. Sure I had some amazing times in college, meet amazing people, and learned a ton. But there were many days of stress (or should I say months of stress), late nights writing papers, financial strain, the whole 9. I think with any period in life you have to take it as it is. I loved my 4 years at university but could I say they were the best 4 years of my life? Absolutely not.

Why I think college shouldn't be the best 4 years

What were my favorite years of life you say? Especially as only a 20 something? Well funny you should ask because I don’t know. I have distinctive memories (both good and bad) that ground me. Things I remember that put a smile on my face. Things I recall that help me realize how much I’ve changed and help me realize who I’ve become. Things I recollect to help me forgive and move on. Things I reminisce to humble me. Because who I am to deserve all this? I have a great deal of privilege and I acknowledge that. Being able to go to college at all is something that I will never take for granted.

It’s hard not to compare your present with your past. I get it! I do it all the time. Especially now that I am in a state of limbo. I’m back home and without a job. Balancing seeing my hometown friends while making sure to keep it touch with ones far away. Here I am in limbo waiting for my verdict. What path will my life take?

Transitions are a part of life and they can be the hardest part of life. While in a big-decision-making-period-of-life I don’t think anybody really wants to be there. Things should be decided already and I shouldn’t have to do the choosing because that’s hard! But the fact that we do get to choose is a blessing. Life usually works out– if not always in the way one might expect. (A slight twist on a Luna Lovegood quote? Why yes you sly reader, yes it is.)

To me college was a period of life where the amount of decisions one has to make is at an all time high. I think that it is both terrifying and exciting. That is a thrill of your college years that can’t quite be recreated in such quick succession. I could write a whole post about picking my major! I do have a short story memoir idea about it that I hope to write some time. Let’s just say it involves biking and squirrels.

Writer Hayley Elizabeth graduating from Penn State

Being artsy fartsy I really wanted to decorate my graduation cap yet have some meaning to it. I like to have closure. While a graduation ceremony is a big event to gain closure I sometimes like the small nods of closure too. The small triumph of the last final I had to take or my last bike ride through campus after a shift at the pool. Or the small act of painting my graduation cap.

With my graduation cap I tried to embody all of these thoughts (…and more). I turned to bae writer extraordinaire Virginia Woolf. In her novel The Waves there is a short quote: “I am rooted but I flow.” The lyricism and poetry of all of Virginia Woolf’s writing could be partially described with this quote as well. For me, the quote took root. The more I thought about it’s potential meaning the more I came to realize it’s poignant power.

Writer Hayley Elizabeth's graduation cap with the Virginia Woolf quote "I am rooted but I flow" from her novel "The Waves"

I am rooted in my home. The place where I grew up has the dearest place in my heart. I absolutely love it. I always look forward to visiting. I could see myself moving there one day. But at the same time I am young and seeking. Right now I feel like I need to live in other towns and travel.

I am rooted in my family and friends. I am blessed to have deeply rooted and unwavering people in my life. I would not give them up for anything in the world. And just because I have a close group of people doesn’t mean I’m not open to meeting others. I want to make new friends and meet new people too!

I am rooted in my beliefs. College has solidified some of my core beliefs. I have a solid foundation. At the same time, I hope to still be open minded. Challenging what I believe is important and I needed to be able to flow and accept other people’s beliefs as well. As I grow I hope to be able to flesh out my beliefs in a way that is grounded yet flowing.

I am rooted in my past. The past can’t change. (Astounding I know.) For better or for worst the future is also not fixed. It flows like a river, carving it’s own way into the malleable earth both meandering and rushing in curves and angles. You can only see so far before a river bend blocks your view and you float in waiting.

Writer Hayley Elizabeth graduating from Penn State University in the Spring of 2017

So yes, college was 4 amazing, fantastic years but my life isn’t over. I don’t want to define my life by periods of great years and worst years. Every year has it’s ups and downs. I won’t continually say that I wish to go back to being an undergrad. Yes I will remember the good ol’ days of college with my college buds and relive those happy memories. But to compare the rest of my life to just my college years is something I just won’t do.

So instead of saying college was the best 4 years of your life, just live your best life. You only have one.

Happy Life-

Signature with Gray

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