Sometimes you are aware when your great moments are happening, and sometimes they rise from the past. Perhaps it’s the same with people. ~James Salter
By the time I graduated, I was more than ready to move on. In spite of finally feeling somewhat comfortable with the people that I was forced to socialize with for many years in my senior year, I was ready to move on and meet exciting new people in college. These unknown people were exotic, new, and my potential new friends. But I was also very nervous. Would people notice me? Would they like me and want to be my friend? Would a guy finally notice me and ask me out?
All of these things swirled in my head as I walked across campus. The college that I picked couldn’t be considered huge, not like Ohio State or even Standford or UCLA, but it was big enough to meet different people while maintaining a small campus atmosphere and seeing familiar faces. This will be the place where I shine, I thought, or at least I hope so.
It didn’t work out like that right away, though. I went to all my classes, I took careful notes, I studied, I made an effort to talk to the people who sat around me. The people were nice, and I enjoyed my time in most of the classes that I took. I even got noticed by a couple of different guys by the end of freshman year, but those didn’t last long due to reasons I won’t discuss here.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that it finally began to click together. I met a couple of friends during winter quarter that helped me get though the classes we were taking together. In spring quarter, I took a class with a wonderful instructor and from there on out, I took two more classes and sat on one other class he taught. I finally felt like I was a part of something.
The beginning of the end started my last quarter of my B.A. I had to observe a class as part of my placement. I didn’t like the place that I was at, my classes were a struggle, and a couple of people that I thought were my friends turned out to not be very hurtful and not very friend-like. By the time it ended, I was stressed to the point of being sick and feeling very disgusted with myself as well as disillusioned. This wasn’t how I wanted college to end, with stress, dissatisfaction, and no friends as I perceived it. And yet here I was in that predicament.
I’d been accepted into a master’s program that I was supposed to start that summer. I emailed the person in charge of the program and told him that I no longer felt like I could be a part of the program. I didn’t think I could put myself through a whole year of the same thing that I went through the last quarter. All the people that I cared about were going int the English literature program. The creative writers, the intellectuals. The people I felt most a part of. I went to the head of the English graduate program. He told me it’d be better if I waited a year so I could be a T.A. for two whole years rather than one. He seemed to have confidence in me. I was stoked.
I put my application in the following February and waited with bated breath. This was going to be in the bag.
Until it wasn’t.
They didn’t think my application was strong enough. They didn’t think I’d succeed. I was devastated. This was the only thing I wanted to do. Now what?
To make a long story short, I went into another program that summer. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I liked it well enough. I met a couple of friends I generally felt like an outsider. I finished up my program and got another job.
The people that I thought I wanted to be a part of are all scattered now, doing their own thing. I spend time with one or two people that I’ve made friends with in the last couple of years. It’s nice spending time with them, but even now, I can feel them slipping away from me. We’ve probably all changed and have focused on things that are more meaningful to us now. But when we get together, I look at them and miss the times we had in college. I long for the times we had in class, the easy way we talked and got connected. I wish for that feeling of belonging again that dissipated like leaves in the fall.
I still miss school and long for those times that made me have a sense of belonging. But I still hold on to the hope that there will come a time when I will once again feel a part of something. I will be part of a group that I’ll be happy to spend time with and look foreword to getting together. I don’t know where or how that will happen, but the candle of hope still flickers.
Paul over at The Captain’s Speech wrote a post three years ago reminiscing about school which can be found at I Miss School Already. He recently had a guest post from Shaz who writes how “I’m Going to Miss School.” Inspired by both, this was my response.