Goodbye University: Grieving Twenty Year Old Me
I fell in love with my university city the minute I left it.
I want to travel the world. I want to see it all and experience everything it has to offer. I want to fall in love with each and every person and place I submerse myself in. I want the adventure and the uncertainty and the culture. I want it all. And then… then I think I want to go back to the places most familiar—the ones that most moved me—and feel the way I felt when I was last there. Or least pretend I can feel the way I once did.
I visited the city I went to university it. It was hot and sunny and beautifully bright. Then again, maybe it seemed a little brighter because I hadn’t been back in a while.
Whenever I go back, I get a feeling of fullness that I miss when I’m not there: the genuine relationships with phenomenal people still feel like they click, the food that I ate tastes just a little bit more delicious, and the city itself feels exactly like coming home. I love everything about being there and when I leave it I’m sad. I didn’t always feel that way when I lived there. So often, when we are in the middle of an experience, we cannot forego becoming stuck, like a broken record, on a particular piece of badness. I got stuck on it often. Now, however, I do the opposite. Not only do I not really care about the little bad things that I spent so much time harping on, but I really don’t remember the bad. If only I’d actually believed my mom when she said “will it matter in 5 years?”.
I’ve grown up a lot since I left that city. A lot has changed for both better and worse. I’ve learned more. I’m more self-aware. I’m closer to the person I’m supposed to be. I like that… and I really miss the girl I was. I know I can’t go back to it, that I’ve changed too much to be that girl again, but it’s nice to think I could fall back into step with those friends and have it be exactly as carefree as it was.
Then I remember they’ve changed too. I love who they are now and wouldn’t change a single thing about them, but I also feel the need to grieve for the people we once were, for the relationships we had, and the person I once was when I got to be a part of their lives. Sometimes I miss that girl. Other times, I realize that I couldn’t have been stagnant even if I had stayed there: I wouldn’t be that girl regardless of my postcode.
Do we want to be stuck and remain the same? Maybe. Maybe we do when we’ve grown and become someone we like being and have found fullness and meaning in the life that we lead. I’m not there yet. I’ve got a lot ahead of me: I’ve got pain and joy and excitement and setbacks and triumphs ahead. I do miss certain parts of who I was and who I got to be in that city. I know I’m not an adult by any means, but I am much older now than I was then… and I really do feel that. I miss the lack of responsibility and the bright-eyed wonder and optimism I had for my own future.
I’m by no means a pessimist now, but I am acutely aware of how much more I had anticipated and expected for myself. I’m not doing badly, but I—arrogantly—believed I would be leaps and bounds ahead of where I am now. It is because of that, the feeling that I want to have and be more than I am right now—that I should be more right now—that makes me grieve the security I had being that university student who genuinely believed the world was ready and waiting for her to take it by storm.
Is the world still ready and waiting? Sure.
But am I? I guess I’ll just have to let that university expectation go and find out.