Congrats to the Class of 2016! By now, every social media feed is full of graduation pictures, mailboxes with grad party invites. Last year as a freshman, graduation didn’t really have much of an impact on me. I had only a few senior friends and was happy to send them off to bigger and better things. This year though, I’ve had to say goodbye to more friends who have been there for me since the beginning. These seniors brought me into the W&M community and helped me on my way ever since. Suddenly, graduation means more now that I’m losing these mentors and peers and friends.
I’m not really losing them; luckily, we live in an age where someone is only a text or Facebook message away. But faces I’ve seen everyday for the past two years are no longer going to pass me by on my way to Sadler or bump into me at Swem. The faces I am accustomed to seeing, the shoulders I’ve cried on, are moving on and growing up. In a way, I’m going with them. Just as they’ve had an impact on me, I’d like to believe they’re leaving with a little bit of my impact on them. We’ll be apart a little longer, but our reunions will be that much sweeter. Instead of conversations about professors or finals, we can talk about lunch breaks and apartment hunting. It’s a toe dip into the big kid pool and a peek into the real world.
Like last year, I didn’t stay for graduation. This time though, I wish I did. I may have missed many friends’ last walks through Wren and I didn’t get to see them get their diplomas, but nothing much has changed. I laugh and joke with them across the internet, across state lines. And I’ll see them again, no question. That’s what we do when we’re (One Tribe One) Family. We all may be getting older, growing up, but that doesn’t mean we have to grow apart.
I’ll be a junior next year (but that still doesn’t sound real to me). I’ll know even more seniors graduating, until suddenly those caps and gowns will be my freshman hall and me. Next year, I’ll probably stay for graduation and volunteer to see my seniors off. It’ll be tough to imagine a year without them, but one day we’ll be able to grab lunch at some cafe in some city, and reminisce on our great time together at W&M. It’ll be worth it, because even though we hate to say goodbye, we love to see them leave.