I haven’t left UofT yet. I haven’t tossed my cap or clutched my degree with trembling fingers. I haven’t comforted my proud and teary-eyed parents or broken down myself, overwhelmed with disbelief that four years could have gone by so quickly. I haven’t made my friends photograph me on Front Campus, leaping up and down until the moment is memorialized in the perfect mid-air frolic.
I haven’t left UofT yet, but I’m already starting to think of the past four years as if they were a well-played film . The whir of a projector. The graininess of worn-out celluloid. The crack of a voice recording. Scenes that make you laugh until your sides hurt. Scenes that make you cry until your sides hurt.
I haven’t left UofT yet, but I feel like I’ve already written an elegiac love letter in my head, a lamentation for the fading experiences that have formed me into the person I am. The adult, I hesitate to say, that I am.
But it isn’t over yet. Fourth year isn’t over yet. We’re still in 2015, with the new year months away. So why am I filled with this constant nagging sense of premature nostalgia? A pang of pain for every last.
I know I’m not the only person to experience this sentimentality for something. This premature nostalgia for the places that we have to leave too quickly. Places of transit. The feeling hits with powerful inevitability.
UofT has become like a trip that I mourn before its completion. UofT was supposed to get me from point A to point B. The problem is, I still don’t know what point B is and, frankly, I like point A.
Here, I have a sense of purpose. I have a routine. I’m not being thrust headfirst into a world of not knowing. Along the winding, jagged path that is my UofT undergrad, I’ve discovered my genuine love for this community, this abundance of people who are in this together, this collection of fond memories. The late-night conversations, the drunken consumption of Kraft Dinner, the guitar, the caffeine, the mouldy cups of tea.
Of course, to say that attending UofT is nothing but a positive experience would be a downright lie. When I entered university, I was full of brimming, dizzying optimism. Naiveté. Every part of me believed in the possibilities that university would bring. I had no doubt that in the next four years I would figure out exactly who I was. It didn’t surprise me when I made friends and became part of communities and felt like I was truly at the pinnacle of happiness. That was supposed to happen. I was prepared for it.
But I wasn’t prepared for the misery that would accompany it. I wasn’t prepared for the isolation, the nail-biting, soul-crushing anxiety that would follow me from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I wasn’t prepared to feel so disappointed with myself and with the people around me and with the state of humanity. I wasn’t prepared to feel so fucking confused. Those are the parts I won’t miss.
Three-and-a-half years later, I’m still nervous for what comes next. For that point B, whatever it is. The perils of having a liberal arts degree, I guess. What I know is that I don’t want adulthood to mean cynicism. I don’t want my life to become a series of events to pass the time. Taking a break is okay. Doing work is okay. Traveling the world is okay. Breathing is okay.
Three-and-a-half years later, I’m less anxious, less confused, and after all this time, I’ve finally learned about who I am at my very core. I’ve learned more than I could have ever dreamed of at 17 when I was submitting my university application, and for that reason I will always value UofT and what it’s given me.
Yes, I’m filled with nostalgia, but I’m excited for what comes next.