It’s crazy to look back and think about life one year ago. I graduated college a semester early and started a new job. I was living with nine other guys who were all in their last semester of college. We lived in Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful places in the United States. We hung out constantly, playing video games and intramurals, going to the beach, and throwing parties at our house. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure was fun.
After we all walked in May, I hung out for a few days and then moved back home. In June, I started a new job. For a while, I kept missing it all. I missed coming home to my friends. I missed the late nights, the impromptu trips to Freebirds at two in the morning, competing for intramural championships (never could get one of the prized t shirts), the epic battles of civil war. Watching sunsets from the rooftop. Grilling steaks and brats and watching sports. Friendships forged and shattered over fantasy football (ok, maybe not quite that intense, but we sure yelled at each other a bit). Running stadiums at SBCC. I wanted to go back.
It got me down. I would look back and think about all the fun I had. I had conversations with friends about how much we missed college. It seemed like graduating from college took away most of my friends and fun. While I tried to keep an optimistic demeanor around people, inside I was nostalgic.
The feeling continued for a few months, and I still miss elements of college. College was fun and carefree. Responsibilities were minimal, friends were plentiful, and it seemed like life couldn’t get any better. Life after college is tough. You have to deal with things like bills and insurance and jobs. You are trying to figure out what job to take and what on earth you are doing with your life. There’s a bit of an identity crisis; for so many years (about 17) you were a student. Now? Not really sure.
The important thing I realized is that college truly is over. It’s done. There’s no going back (there is grad school, but that’s not the same). With this realization comes two choices. Either you can live like and think that your best years already happen, or you can appreciate this special time of your life and focus on how to make your future great. I had (and occasionally still do) a tendency to subscribe to the former. But I realized that I have the rest of my life in front of me. I could easily live 60, 70, or even 80 more years. To think that my best years are over at age 22 is to give up on the future.
As Dr. Seuss said so well, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I’m taking this to heart. My life isn’t over. There is so much potential for the future. Yeah, I loved college. It was some of the best years of my life. I learned, loved, and lived. But that doesn’t mean I still can’t have a blast going forward. I can continue to have fun with friends. I can make new, crazy memories. Life continues, and there is every opportunity to live and love as there was before.
Images courtesy of TheDreamSky and my Facebook