You breathe in hot humid air and the sweet aroma of magnolia trees fills your nose. It’s August, and as the leaves begin to change, you look around and witness overly excited tour guides, weeping parents, roommate reunions and posters advertising clubs and events and activities galore. You float between conversations about your summer, courses, and predictions for a national championship this football season. School is starting and all is right with the world… beep…beep…beep…
An alarm wakes you from a dream that for the past four years was your reality. You graduated, you’re done, and you aren’t returning to school with everyone else right now. Instead, you’re getting up and going to work at your actual “big girl” job, jealous of all the Move In! Instagram photos you’re seeing on your feed. As you try not to fall apart, the sinking feeling starts because somehow you thought you’d really be there to start fall semester 2015.
People always said that college would be the best four years of your life. It was the time when you made your best friends, discovered your passions, counted memories and moments rather than things, and overshared everything on social media. Over the past four years you developed a relationship with your school. A relationship you worked hard at, gave your life, heart, sleep, and soul to. You studied, laughed, cried, worked, joined committees, found new activities, and cheered on your teams all to earn a degree and a job offer or graduate school acceptance. But now that you’ve graduated, your relationship is getting kind of toxic and maybe a tad bit obsessive. Because the fact of the matter is you’re not going back to school, and facing that is precisely why you need to break up with your school.
Dear Saint Mary’s College,
It’s not you, it’s me.
It is breaking my heart that I will not be joining the girls filling your historic dorms, the students beginning new classes, nor getting ready for that myriad of extracurriculars. I remain eager to learn, yearning for the comfort of my favorite study place, and resistant to move on from the protective bubble you’ve placed around me for the past four years.
Saint Mary’s, I love you.
I love you for providing me with the sisters I never had. I love you for the brilliant professors, wide berth of subjects, and knowledge that you have passed on to me. I love you for introducing me to the world.
I love the beautiful dorm (more like castle) I got to live in, the avenue that led me home, and the smile you brought to my face each day. I love your winding sidewalks filled with freshman rushing from building to building and wondering how ten minutes will ever be enough time between classes.
From the people, professors, places, conferences, meetings, late nights, early mornings, and days without sleep, you have always meant the world to me and leaving you is one of the hardest things I have to do.
The missing you comes in waves, like when I realized in the middle of Target yesterday that I didn’t need new storage bins, laundry detergent, or an armory of highlighters and note cards. I missed you when I realized I would not be attending every single football game for the first time in four years. I missed you when I realized the all the freshmen were off to those most awkward, forced, and incredible social events that characterize freshman year, and that I would not be there to answer their questions or witness their wonder. I missed you when I realized that for the first time, I’m not going back to school.
For a few months now I have jumped fearlessly into the next forty years of my life, but I have not yet put you behind me. I have left you there, forever my safety net, with some small hope, and a lot of denial that I would be returning to your warm embrace as summer came to a close.
It is now that I realize I must move on. I miss you, and you will forever be my home. I will visit often, hold you in my heart, wear you on my finger, and carry your lessons with me everyday for the rest of my life.
I look forward to the new traditions you will introduce to me at reunions and in my local alumnae club get togethers; but I cannot live in denial of the fact that our relationship will continue as it was. It is time for me to grow up, to spread the wings you helped me grow, and to move on into the promise you’ve shown me life has to offer.
As much as I long to wonder your halls, join the student section, and sport endless SMC t-shirts at countless events, I refuse to be a weird and creepy alumna. So no Saint Mary’s, It’s not you, It’s me.
Once a Belle, Always a Belle,