I graduated from Eastern Illinois University last weekend on December 19, 2015 with a Bachelors in Adult & Community Education. It’s hard for most people to imagine, but I’ve spent almost half my life in College. Heck it’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but 11 years of meeting colleagues and working with instructors is a long time.
When I sat down in those chairs, crammed together against people I’ve known for years, fellow peers I’ve worked alongside happily and the many co-workers I had gotten to know over the semesters … well, I somehow came to realization that they were gone. I would never meet them again, nor would I see them. In a number of months, I’d forget their names. In a year or so, I’d forget their faces. Ghosts of the past. That’s what they’d be, whispers of a different time that is now behind me.
When I walked up on the stage to receive my diploma, an eerie feeling passed over me. For 11 years, the brunt of my life revolved around schoolwork and the people I’ve known in college. I worked for this degree and I put in my time. Nevertheless, I felt that part of my life stripped away forcefully in less than an hour, as if a piece of my soul left with it. I stood to take my picture, half a man, or maybe less.
There was no happy ending here, except that I could continue on. While my life was not over, a large part of myself died on a cold December afternoon. On some level, I knew it would eventually happen, that I’d walk up the stage and part ways, though nothing could prepare me for the awful feeling of knowing something for years only to lose it for good.
Cheers, and Merry Christmas.