We come at last to the beginning of summer and with it, in most cases the end of the school year. It’s time to pack up the books and pencils and spend three months relaxing. The last day of school is always a fun and exciting time. At risk of sounding cliché, an old year has ended and a new one will begin.
At the same time, the last day of school can also be a very sad day. If you are graduating, while it is certainly an incredible accomplishment it is still hard to say good bye. For one last time you walk those old halls, and bid farewell to teachers and friends you’ve made as you think back over the memories you made.
This is even harder when you graduate college. There is a lot of good advice that teachers and other well intentioned individuals will give you in regards to college. I’m sure you know them all by now. In fact, last September I listed off a few of these little gems.
In case you forgot, allow me to remind you. “These will be the best days of your life. You’ll remember them forever” “Learn a lot”. “The friends you make in college will be the friends you make for life.”
But one thing they never tell you is just how hard it will be to leave. Much of it has to do with the reasons I listed above. Because of those memories and the people close to you that school will be more than just a punch clock school, like those that came before. Need I remind you that unlike High School, you are, in most cases, actually living there?
You are side by side with these people seven days a week for nine months. You find that unlike friendships that came before, the bond you make are tighter and stronger then friends from childhood. You’ve seen each other through some hard times and celebrated some of the best days as well. You have, in effect become a family.
It is because of that family that the school becomes something else entirely. It becomes your home. In that respect, leaving home is always harder than leaving school. It’s the place you feel safe, secure, and where you know that you belong. You may have your disagreements and misunderstandings, things may not always be perfect, but you still know you belong and you still know that at the end of the day, you’re home.
For some they may have to face a cold cruel reality of an uncaring world where they may never fit in. For others they may find an endless road of broken dreams. Even if someone does seem to end in that perfect “happy ending” with a good paying job and a family of their own, they still may miss the freedom they had to go and hang out with their friends whenever they liked. Schedules need to be coordinated, time needs to be managed and in some cases you may not see each other for months on end.
It kind of makes it easy to miss “home”. It has often been said that when it comes to your time at college, you get what you put into it. If you put your time and effort into your college education, and you make those great friends you will get that home of which I speak.
In that respect this sensation isn’t just mere nostalgia. It’s a deep and penetrating longing for home. But here is something funny. If you really have made those friendships that last a life time, you’ll find that whenever you get together no time has passed. If you really learned a lot during your time there, you’ll find yourself recalling them with great ease. And your memories? Well, no one can ever take them away from you.
To quote Joss Whedon’s incompetent superhero, Captain Hammer, “Home is where your heart is, so your real home’s in your chest.”
But let me give you a warning: if you do all this it will make it a lot harder to leave. You are much safer if you stay isolated from others and get nothing from your education but a degree or a job.
As J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caufield said in The Catcher in the Rye,
“Don’t tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
But what kind of life would that be?