Leaving College

Fair warning, this one’s going to be slightly more personal than usual. Not in an “telling my deepest darkest secrets” sort of way, more like a “thoughts and feelings” sort of way. The reason is that this week’s post is the first I have written where I did not begin the week as an undergraduate college student.

This is a slightly peculiar feeling, as I was in undergraduate college for three and a half years, and in that time I’ve changed in ways I don’t quite yet understand, and may not fully grasp until this life is past. I think, however, a brief overview of why this transition is different from previous transitions is helpful.

This transition I have undergone is slightly different than the last major one I underwent, that of “high school student” to “college student.” To begin with, there is a certain…finality to this leaving that the previous one did not have. While there is a good chance that I will return to the town where I went to college next year to live, the people who I spent over three years of life with will mostly be gone. A few will remain, but it will not be the same. And if I do not go back to live there, while I will still visit at least once, in such a case I will not be a member of the community, but will just be passing through. When I left high school, I knew that I would return to that town, and that those returnings would be for weeks or months–I had also lived there for eighteen years, and it was time for a change.

Which brings me to another thing: college has been one of the first places where I found a combination of people who were interested in the same things I was, who were also starting from the same basic premises that I was, and who did not bear some kind of kinship to me. Throw in the fact that I basically lived with these people for seven to eight and a half months a year, and you’ve a recipe for connections. This, by the way, is not uncommon in college students.

Anyway, this all combined to produce a bit more of a wrenching feeling when I left college than when I left high school.

Honestly, I’m okay with that, because it means that I actually lived there while I was there. There are dozens of people who I will miss seeing every day or every week, which means I actually got to know them. That was a bit different than high school–there were several people who I thought that about back in high school, but not nearly that many.

And also, the road ahead of me is much less well-defined. That induces a state of trepidation, let me tell you.

Anyway, there is a larger point to this nattering about myself–mostly just reminding us all of a few important things. First, every hello, eventually, leads to some sort of good-bye. People walk into your life or you walk into theirs, you get to know them, they become friends with you…and then either they or you has to walk away. And it hurts, whichever one you are.

However, for everything there is a season, and time for everything under heaven–and eventually, for some of those who walk this earth, there will be only hellos.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness


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