I keep getting asked “How does it feel to be done with college?” I haven’t figured out a way to answer that question concisely. Like with most big moments in my life I have mixed feelings. For the past two years I looked on graduation with dread. How could I say goodbye to people and a place I’ve come to regard as home? Was I abandoning my friends and my experience if I was okay with leaving? Was I being abandoned? I usually try to hide my emotions but these past two years my emotions were too strong to hold inside as I confronted deep set fears. To put it in perspective, I was that kid in preschool who—after being dropped off—cried inconsolably and stayed to herself sulking. My sister, on the other hand, ran around telling other preschoolers “We’re going to be friends!” After making baby steps to break out of my shell growing up, I succeeded in changing a lot at Kenyon, changing into someone I enjoy being. I thought it would be so difficult to move on from Kenyon. It wasn’t. Despite the well of emotions beforehand, the last week–Senior Week–was amazing. I felt so happy. I was spending time with people I cared about without the stress of school work looming over me. Graduation day I felt fine. Better than fine. I felt good. I didn’t want to break down in tears. I wanted to hug my friends, tell them how much they meant to me, and wish them the best. I made plans to keep in touch and not let that be a final goodbye.
The future, the unknown, scares me a lot. All I want is to be coaxed into the new, to be reassured, and to have everything explained to me so I know exactly what to do. During senior week I was reminded of something amazing. It was the night before commencement. A live jazz band was playing in Gund Ballroom. I danced and talked with friends and family. A woman (someone’s mother I assume) congratulated me on graduating. She asked me my major and my goals. I told her how I wanted to be writer, that I like to read fantasy fiction, and would like to write something with a magical feel even if it isn’t full on Harry Potter/LOTR/Narnia but wasn’t sure how to do so. The parent looked at me and said that life itself is full of wonder and magic because it’s full of possibilities. That bowled me over. She put into words what I believe deep down but always forget. Maybe I or the characters I write don’t have a magic wand, but the wonder that I’ve always thought irresistible comes from not knowing what’s going to happen. That’s where the adventure is, that’s what keeps readers turning the pages, keeps all of us living to each breath. We don’t know what will happen at the next moment, but in that uncertainty is potential for something amazing to happen. Even if there is hardship, making it through difficulty adds to the amazing quality of succeeding to go farther than we thought we could. That’s what I want to convey in stories, what I felt as an imaginative kid looking around at the world and seeing “what ifs” with the excitement of an adventurer. Why not approach life with the same philosophy?
“To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing what’s around the river bend, waiting just around the river bend. I look once more just around the river bend, beyond the shore, where the gulls fly free. Don’t know what for, what I dream the day might send just around the river bend for me. Coming for me.” (Disney’s Pocahontas)