• Lena Daniels

My Goodbye to College

Ahh, graduation. The perfect way to close out another chapter in your life. It’s a celebration, an award ceremony, and a goodbye that we all dread. Like most college seniors, it’s something I've looked forward to since move-in day my freshman year. It’s a chance for my parents to celebrate their first college graduate and a moment for me to bask in and celebrate all the hard work and sleepless nights from the past four years. Most importantly, it's the perfect ending and a new beginning all wrapped up into one. That’s why they call it commencement, huh?


Now, we all know where this story is going. COVID-19 has taken a lot away from us, and with college graduation being the topic of this article, it’s easy to put two and two together. We all know graduation is canceled and virtual graduation ceremonies have been created — but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to give myself the closure that has been taken away from me.


Yes, I'm still graduating and yes, I'm still going to be the proud recipient of a degree I worked so hard for. I’m not losing out on that honor, but the class of 2020 has lost the closure that comes with senior year. We didn’t know that our last class was our last. Our last club meeting, our last campus activity, our last study date with friends. Senior year is about taking it all in and enjoying every last second, and ours was taken from us too soon.


The funny thing is, I almost skipped my last in-person class because I didn’t feel like going. I obviously had no idea at the time that it would be my last time talking to my friends in person, and the last time I walked the halls as a student. I never had a chance to say goodbye to all my favorite spots on campus, because now I'll be visiting them as an alumna and everything will be different.

I didn’t get to take in all the moments of my final few weeks in Her Campus, the club that has been a part of me since a week before freshman year even began. I missed out on a few of the last socials because I thought I had more time. Our senior banquet was held through Zoom. The sentiment was there, but it felt so wrong. Not being able to cry happy tears with my fellow graduates about all the memories we made will forever haunt me.


I missed out on a few of the last socials because I thought I had more time.

I can’t even go to campus to take graduation photos with my cap and gown — something I’ve been planning forever. I've had the amazing opportunity to photograph so many students as they celebrated their big moment over the past three years, and It’s extremely ironic that I will never get to experience that same joy.


So, I’m here to say goodbye. Goodbye to the girls in Her Campus who made me who I am today. Goodbye to the pegasus seal in the student union that I’ll never get to step on. Goodbye to the eerily quiet halls at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Goodbye to the Lake Claire dorms that I lived in freshman year and walked by all the way through senior year. Goodbye to the Spin scooters that I wanted to ride so badly but never had the chance to. Goodbye to the musty library that I (surprisingly) spent a lot of time in. Goodbye to not recognizing my own boyfriend on campus on days I forgot my glasses. Goodbye to the Her Campus cubicle that I practically lived in senior year. Goodbye to the beautiful palm tree-lined campus that I fell in love with the moment I took my first tour. Goodbye UCF.


Graduating college is hard, and saying goodbye to a school that made you who you are today is even harder — even under normal circumstances. But “graduating” from college via a livestream while alone in your bedroom is just downright depressing. 


I'm so proud of all the accomplishments I’ve made in my four years, and I know a lack of ceremony doesn't discredit that at all, but it’s definitely weird to finish my degree in the same chair that I’ll be starting my full-time job in on the following Monday.


I know we’ll get our celebration when the time is right, but for now, this is our life.

Class of 2020, I see you and I feel your pain. This is weird and sad and overwhelming, and you're allowed to feel however you feel. I know we’ll get our celebration when the time is right, but for now, this is our life. I hope that despite these weird circumstances, we can all find closure in our own unique ways. Saying goodbye to these memories digitally doesn’t feel quite real. I still think that August is going to come around and I’ll be excited to buy school supplies because it never really hit me that I’m done with school forever. All we can do is embrace the fact that not only did we graduate, but we will have a unique story to tell about the end of this chapter of our lives. Forever. 

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© LENA DANIELS 2020

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