How do you say goodbye and hello in the same breath?

On Monday, I found myself wandering about on campus, over Leona Creek past the piled tree branches from last week’s windstorms, into the sudden warm sun by the Alumnae House, trailing my way between trees and archways of the art building.

It was only when I found myself standing next to the koi pond betwixt the first year dorms, where I spent many meditative hours and late night ramblings, when I realized–

I was saying goodbye.

I’ve spent four years at Mills, everything becoming so familiar and personal that home is the best word I can put to it, despite the feeling that this attachment is so much more than that. It’s not that I’m idealizing the experience–college has taught me how much damage stress can cause, how easily ideals and ethics can be sacrificed, and how to work an academic system set up to only let some people succeed and others falter. I’ve been disillusioned by peers as well as professors.

But I’ve also learned my limits. I’ve learned to recognize the signs when I’ve taken too much on. I’ve learned to say “No,” despite not wanting to disappoint people. I think that was the hardest lesson to learn, but it’s so exhilarating to sit down one evening and realize I actually have time to pick up my guitar or take a nap (as if you don’t already know, college is exhausting and sleep is a hard won commodity).

Balance. I used to think I had it, realized I didn’t, and now I’ve slowly built it into my life. It requires letting go, something that’s hard when the message all around is to do as much as possible and get as much as you can out of everything–to take advantage of every opportunity. I’m figuring out it’s better to have less on my plate so I can take advantage of the right opportunity, rather than trying fit absolutely everything in.

I don’t want this to turn into a “what I learned in college” letter, but I suppose that’s inevitable when trying to tie up the loose ends and make sense of all these experiences I’ve had in relation to one place. Sometimes it seems like every corner holds a memory. Mills is where I grew up.

I’ll definitely miss the effortless way I can run into people just walking through campus or sitting in Adam’s Plaza. But it’s also exciting (and a bit frightening) to leave with the connections I want to continue, and leave the ones I don’t, behind. Four years is enough time to accumulate bad memories as well as good.

This must be what “real life,” “the adult world,” and the “great unknown” are. Where will I be in a year? I have only a slight idea. I’ve been job searching for the last week, seeing what’s out there. By job searching I mean sticking my toes in and checking the temperature, bracing myself for the dive. It’s helped to have my thesis distract me, but now that that’s almost out of the way (phew!), I’m on to looking for an occupation I can feel fulfilled in.

That’s the clincher. I have a wide variety of interests and skills that could apply to many different kinds of jobs, as well as some sturdy recommendations–the hard part is deciding which career track will suit me the most. You’d think I’d have that figured out by now, but the longer I’ve been in the college, the more things I discover that I love to do. The newest is social media marketing. I love the potential it has to reconnect humans to humans in a tech saturated world. Yes, it’s easy to get lost in it too, but that’s the exciting part–figuring out how to use it as a tool, instead of a toy. With new media, there is constant innovations, new platforms and apps, so I could never get bored.

But how do I tie that into my passion for poetry, publishing, blogging, social justice, and queer issues? I guess that’s the new challenge I’m saying hello to.

“Hello!”

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The Big DayMay 25th, 2013
College is over! I have my degree!
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