Wishing we could give you the goodbye you deserve
I know that it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything going on in the world and think: “Well, there’s a lot worse things than missing the end of my senior year,” but the truth is this whole situation is unfair and lousy. And, really, I just wanted to say I’m sorry.
Your parents probably came and clapped at your kindergarten graduation, and your middle school graduation and you might have even felt pretty proud graduating from high school, but college is the big one. For most seniors, this is their last step before going out into the world, getting a job, being an adult.
Our entire lives are school as far back as we can remember, going through the motions from one year to the next. Now, that track laid before you is gone and you have to make your own path, and that’s a huge deal.
Even if your final semester of college can still be stressful, and even if commencement is a long-winded and sometimes agonizing ritual, these are still rites of passage you had earned the right to endure and I wish that you could have.
I’m sorry for the seniors who didn’t get to have their last semester on campus. It sounds silly, missing out on walking to class or waking up at 8 a.m. to brave the freezing cold. However, there’s something to be said about physically going to your last class ever. Sitting in the room of a class you’ve skipped for weeks because this is it, your last lesson ever.
Then, for many people, you didn’t get the chance to really say goodbye to that one professor. For some, it was your advisor or maybe that general education professor that helped guide you into switching your major. Whoever it was, it may feel like the relationship you’ve been building over the last few years didn’t get to have that satisfying ending.
Even things like watching the weather change can mean so much when you know it’s the last time you’re going to get to see NDSU turn to spring, the last time you can wear shorts on the first 50-degree day of the year or the last time you can watch the campus trees fill with hammockers snapping pictures of themselves in the sun. These little nothings don’t mean much until you realize you’ll never get the chance to see them one last time.
I’m sorry for the seniors who didn’t get to spend their last semester with their best friends. Friends that might now be moving to different cities or states, but who you grew up with these last few years. Maybe you wanted to go downtown on a Saturday night one more time or buy your friend one last Caribou in the union.
Friends in college are so different from any other friends you’ll have in your entire life. You’re pushed into a pool of a couple thousand strangers and you chose these people to be by your side. They aren’t like the friends of convenience made in elementary school or high school, where you’re best friends with the first person your mom set you up on a play date with when you’re five. Your college friends at some point or another have seen the worst of you, and despite having any number of people they could choose to have in their lives, they still chose you.
And while there’s no doubt you’ll stay in touch as you head into your adult lives, you still deserved these last few months together. You deserved the late nights and the forgotten nights. You didn’t get those and I feel for you.
I’m sorry to the seniors who don’t get a commencement ceremony. Even if the whole process of walking on a stage and grabbing an empty diploma folder is a little silly, you worked for years for the right to wear those robes and that square hat and to grab that empty folder with pride!
Students who worked for cords or who spent late nights working to fix their freshman G.P.A. to walk the stage with a sash someday, you deserve the right too to show off your achievements, even if the symbol is a little trivial in comparison to all the work that went into earning those adornments.
Every senior should get the chance to blush as their parents take their picture in front of the bison statue, exclaiming, “Remember when we took this same picture at your orientation? How are you so grown up?” And unlike at that orientation, you won’t feel nervous about where you’re going, even though there’s no advisor to guide you for this next part because you have that stupid empty folder by your side. You’re done.
And to the parents, the friends, the siblings, grandparents and ‘cool’ aunts, to all the fans of graduating seniors, I’m sorry too. You cheered seniors on, you rooted for them from the beginning and now you don’t get to give them the send-off you know they truly deserve.
Finally, to my dear Hannah. I’m so sorry I won’t get to see you looking gorgeous, as usual, in that polyester gown. I would have been screaming for you, front row, one of your many fans. You amaze me, many seniors do, but you’re truly special, my dear.