Final Thoughts: A Graduate’s Reflection

As I sat around the table at the café, enjoying the company of my friends, some that I had met my first year on campus, some that I had only met last semester, I realized that the reality of it all had yet to really strike me. This was it. This place that I had called home for the past four years wouldn’t be my home anymore. I was leaving, leaving for good.  I had always anticipated this moment, sometimes comparing it to high school, others expecting it to be something completely different, but somehow I had expected it to be more emotional than this. I remembered my high school graduation, I wasn’t sad at all; I was excited to be moving on and out, and, to be honest, away from the people that had teased me all throughout middle school. I was sad; I’d be leaving my friends, true. But the sadness was overshadowed by my excitement of entering college.

I sat there, reeling in the joy of completing my last final, not quite registering that it was the least final that I ever would take. The last essay that I would ever write. The last classroom that I would ever sit in, at least in my foreseeable future.  It was not as much a relief as that I had expected, certainly not as much as it had in high school.

My brain swam with memories of the past four years. Wishes, regrets, missed opportunities.  I thought about the fights I got into with my roommates, when they moved out, unexpectedly, leaving me with only a text message.  The drama that we had with our club, that it got so bad that we were almost disbanded. Throughout all of it, we stuck together, no matter how bad we thought it looked. And it paid off. I made friends, saved the club, and even managed to start a new one.

I thought about my freshman year, arriving with no friends, nobody nearby. I’m a shy person, and felt like there would be no way that I would make friends, at least not right away. I was relying heavily on my interest. I thought about my sophomore year, how I almost changed my major because, after one dose of a communications course I decided that publishing, the one thing that I had really wanted to do, what drove me to this school, was not what I really wanted to do.

My junior year, when everything seemed like it was falling apart, that we  had no stability, that we had no one to turn to, even within ourselves. It was then that I discovered that there were things that I was good with in the writing major; I could design posters, I was efficient at it, and my work seemed to be well regarded.  I started working on the newspaper and working on designs for other parts in my school life. Amidst all of the insanity, I was happy. I had found my place.

This year, too, was different.  But still, I had found my home.  I had kept my home. My home wasn’t in the building itself, it was in the friends I had made, our all-nighters, and shopping trips, in our laughs and our fights. This was the home that would stay with me, wherever I went, whatever jobs I took, wherever life took me. If I got nothing else out of these four years of my life, it was that. And that was enough.  Embrace everything, the good and the bad, because every moment is important.

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Stefanie Hughes

Stefanie Hughes

Stefanie Hughes is a senior at Benedictine University, with a double major in Writing & Publishing and Theology. She spends her free time working on Benedictine’s newspaper, The Candor, as well as being a member of Daughters of Isabella, Students for Life, and helping around University Ministry. Any other extra time is filled with reading, writing, cooking, video editing, biking or walking around the lake.