The graduation ceremony, final exams, send-off parties—these can feel like the most important moments of your life. But I promise you, they are just moments. These events can feel so monumental, so life-changing, but they are just events. Yes, college seniors, you’ll miss out on moments because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). I can empathize with your feelings of missing out on moments.
My first semester senior year, I discovered I would have enough credits to graduate a semester early. The decision to do so was seemingly easy, it’d save my parents money and avoid accumulating more student loan debt. There was no formal graduation when I graduated that December, so I moved all my stuff out of my dorm room of the past two years and had a casual brunch with family and my boyfriend at the time. I hugged my friends and said see you later, and prepared to move into my first ‘big girl’ apartment in Boston in a few weeks.
It was business as usual for a while after that, until I got an email from Boston University asking if I would be walking during the College of Communications formal graduation ceremony in May.
I had been so wrapped up in my job and my new life, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I would have the chance to come back to campus and finish out my college career in a way that wasn’t quite so, anticlimactic. But, the idea of taking a day off of work and making my family drive to Boston when I already ‘felt graduated’ seemed pointless. I emailed back my response, “I will not be walking at graduation.”
I’m not going to lie, when I saw the Instagram posts and got the texts from friends, I had a little bit of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). It was enough to make me question my decision, enough to shed some tears. But, the day passed and it was back to work for me.
It may not feel OK, but it will be OK. Believe it or not, these aren’t the part of your four years that matter the most. It’s the professors whose physics and statistics lessons taught you more than what was printed on the syllabus: invaluable life lessons. It’s the professors whose office hours you actually went to, and were grateful that you did, and the teaching assistants who broke it down for you when you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your professor. What really matters is the people you’ve met along the way—the freshman year friends who coaxed you out of homesickness, the partners for a group project who helped you get the ‘A’, people you dated, got to know, leaned on, and learned something from, and your friends.
I get it, it’s hard. You’ve been ordered to abruptly move back home to finish your semesters from behind screens. It’s a jarring reality that you won’t be able to take your final exams from the desk you sat in all semester, and that you won’t be able to go to that bar or those parties for the final times with your friends. Moreover, the heavy and daunting truth to face; it’s likely you won’t get to walk across a stage in your cap and gown, with your diploma in-hand. I felt a similar FOMO, but please remember that FOMO is fleeting, friendships go the distance.
Sure, right now COVID-19 has completely changed our lives as ‘the young people’ of America—and of the world.
Here I am, 6 years after graduating, Saturday nights usually spent out at restaurants or house parties are now spent at home watching Netflix, or reading a good book. Evenings letting off steam at the gym are now power walks around the neighborhood or stretches on the yoga mat in the living room. And those cherished hours sitting around with friends are now FaceTime calls where we are checking in on each other—how are we all doing? How’s our mental health? Are we feeling healthy? Have we washed our hands yet today? Do we have enough toilet paper?
My fiancé and I are privileged to be salaried employees at companies that can afford to continue to pay us, for now at least. We both have jobs that allow us to work from the cozy comfort of our apartment.
We both graduated college in 2014. Six years ago, we marked the time by summers and semesters.
Since graduating college, I’ve found that the months roll from one into the next and the passing of time is marked by big occasions – new jobs, new apartments, our engagement, friends’ weddings, weekend adventures with friends, and big trips.
My friends who were with me through my college years are here with me today. In fact, one of them will be standing by my side as a bridesmaid when I walk down the aisle in a few months, and many others will be sitting in the pews.
I would tell my senior self that what matters is the people who stayed by your side through the years, and the person you’ve become.
For more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) visit CDC.gov.
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “CONNECT” to 741741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual.