For the entirety of my life, I knew I would be attending Xavier. Both of my parents had been professors here since 1999 until my tenured mother was illegally fired nearly a decade later — but that’s a story for another time. For me and my brothers, it was deeply ingrained that graduating without any debt was the best thing we could do for our futures, and that meant four years of our lives would be spent at Xavier. While my high school friends went on college visits and crossed their fingers for a big envelope from their top choice, I was less than excited to attend a school I didn’t really choose or even particularly like.
It’s no secret to the people who know me that my college experience has been not-as-advertised. I commuted for three years, befriended mainly seniors during my first year and pretty much wandered around for the rest feeling unsure and out of place despite the good people and great opportunities in my life. While everyone was clique-ing up our freshman year, connecting to new people after my friends graduated landed me back at square one. I was a sophomore with freshman-level desperation, and most people just didn’t seem interested in adding another name to their contact list.
My college experience was lackluster at best. I envied the stories of dorm life that reminded me of my favorite movies, wondered how I was supposed to find a “squad” and felt completely apathetic about the ra-ra school spirit and basketball fans around me. I floated through my four years acquiring and losing close friends and nostalgic experiences to the void of graduation and, just, life. This whole thing was supposed to be different — supposed to be better — and it just wasn’t.
I’ve had great friends and wonderful memories, but I feel no attachment and no desire to stay any longer than required for a piece of paper valued at a whopping $120,000. Early on, it was very apparent that this whole college thing was wonderfully temporary. While others never want to leave, I’ve been at the front of the bus waiting to get off at the next stop.
Despite being someone so strong-willed and sure of themselves (i.e. stubborn and cocky), I was often caught up in thoughts of what I should be doing, who I should be. I craved a reference point, but since I didn’t have the default “college experience” I felt entitled to, I grew increasingly bitter after my freshman year.
I was consumed by everything I didn’t have, everything that wasn’t going my way and everything that wasn’t ideal. The lens through which I saw the world was tinted by what I envisioned for my default life. Walking around campus each day, I was constantly reminded that my experience was different than everyone else’s, the life I didn’t have dangled in front of me on a fishing line as my feet hit the treadmill.
Moving out my senior year became a marker of my happiness. Once I move out, I thought, once I began living the default experience I deserve, then everything will fall into place. But instead I spent months repairing my relationship with my parents that I single-handedly damaged. I worked with my therapist toward becoming more grateful and compassionate. And I’m still learning how to see the people around me as just as human as me.
Things will not always be ideal. And they might seem overwhelmingly unideal for longer than you expect. But that does not mean you have less. And it certainly doesn’t make you entitled to more.
One of the scariest but also most reassuring parts of life lies in the temporary. You can ride on the bus for as long as you want, but you’ll ultimately come to the end of the line. There will be dozens of stops along the way, and you can always choose to get off, but everything eventually becomes a waystation. Stay on or get off, you will never feel caught between stops. And when you do get off the bus, you have to choose what you will carry, how much weight your shoulders can bear and when it’s time to stop packing. You can’t take it all with you, and you shouldn’t. There simply isn’t enough space.
It’s OK to be waiting for the next stop or to just enjoy the ride. It’s OK to listen to the clock tick or leave your watch at home. Anywhere you go is temporary. And while you may be waiting on life, life will never wait for you. So, what will you pack?
By. Hannah Paige Michels
Hannah Paige Michels is a graduating senior. During her time with the Newswire she has served as the Campus News Editor, the Photography Editor, a copy editor and a staff writer.