During my first-ever week as a Yale student, sitting alone in a large, empty ‘dingle’ — a room with two beds but one inhabitant — I closed the tab containing a YouTube video titled “President Salovey’s Address to Yale College Class of 2024,” and submitted my first-ever piece for the News. It was titled “In Pursuit of the Perfect Goodbye.” Four years later, I am still in pursuit. And further away than I’ve ever been.

Admittedly, the question I was asking then is not the same as the one we’ve all spent the last week thinking about — as we go on bike rides to East Rock with friends whose laughter is the anthem of our college years but who we’ll never FaceTime when they move to Colorado, as we swipe into unexplored buildings on Hillhouse Avenue, remembering how beautiful this place is and wishing we’d spent just ten more seconds of our most stressful days here, as we spend the nights dancing away all our anxieties, slightly drunk and still more self-conscious.

Four years ago, I asked what it meant to start college in the middle of a pandemic: how to begin a new chapter without saying goodbye to the old one, how to matriculate college without properly graduating from high school, how to attend our first week of college classes when we missed our last week of high school classes. In a word, closure. Looking back, I don’t think it would have helped. In fact, I’m no longer sure it’s possible. You cannot preempt grief. 


Five months ago, on a quiet, forested road in the middle of Bombay, a friend stared at me over a plate of hummus and asked me what my ideal job after college would be.

“I want to think about important problems, but not just one type of problem,” I replied.  

“McKinsey, then?” 

“No, consulting firms solve only business problems. I want to spend from 9 a.m. to noon helping an aspiring Proust scholar better understand Girard’s argument about mediated desire in the Guermantes salon. Then 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. reading about RNA-protein interactions and making a review guide of basic concepts related to RNA biology. Then 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. leading a reading group to help budding political philosophers better understand Rawls’ ‘Theory of Justice’ and then maybe 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. writing headlines for an up-and-coming Onion-esque comedy publication?”

“Like freelance consulting for non-experts? And who would hire you to do these things?”

“I don’t know. Like college students?”

He looked at me suspiciously. “And where would you do this? And how large would the company be?”

“Well, it might make sense to be on a college campus, for the sake of proximity to the clientele. And, it would probably be most productive to solve these problems in collaborative groups of 8 to 12 people of similar ages, just, you know, to get a range of perspectives.”

He chuckled at me. I was completely serious. I want a career that pays me to be intellectually curious about a variety of disciplines, that fills my day with diverse types of work, that allows me to spend eight hours working in four locations and that gives me agency to choose what to work on.

I want to be a professional college student for the rest of my life. 


I’m scared of so many things. I’m scared of bees and fire and the clicking sound a gas stove makes when you try to turn it on. I’m scared of growing up and 401(k)s and career plans and figuring it out. I’m scared that life will never feel as good as it did the night of my twenty-first birthday party. I’m scared of graduating. 

We’re scared of graduating because life will never feel as open, as suffused with potential energy as it did during our college days. The sense that we could do anything.

But we’re also scared of graduating because we’re scared of being lonely. Because of the things we’ve heard from those who came before us. Because “never again will all your best friends live on the same block.” Because people who move to London are notoriously bad at picking up your calls. Because “there is no place where you are more structurally well set-up to be happy than at Yale,” because we’re only in semi-regular contact with three people from high school. Because we’ve seen how much older friends have struggled to find themselves throughout their twenties. And perhaps because Yale has made us all a little worse at being lonely.

I remember my first-ever Thanksgiving in America, spent at my best friend from Yale’s house in New York. His older sister, a recent Princeton graduate, looked at us and said, “Savour every moment. College flashes by you in the blink of an eye.” I spent the last four years straining my eyelids to stay perennially open. It still doesn’t mean I still couldn’t see clearly.

I think of nights like the one after the horror movie. When we stayed up till 3 a.m. discussing retributive justice. Spoons. Cigarettes and moonshine with a French graduate student at the Game. Shabbat dinner for sixteen in Miami. Karaoke. So much karaoke. Sitting outside the Schwarzman Centre with my head in my hands. All the tears. Dance circles. Laughing in LC101. Beef toast. Picnic blankets on Cross Campus. Friends — more than I ever imagined. And then the idea of losing them. 

They tell us we’ll rebuild after the quake. That we’ll find new friends and partners and communities. I don’t want to be friends with the sweaty thirty-year old who awkwardly waves at me in the gym. Or the corporate colleague who’s a little too into pilsners. I want to spend the rest of my lives talking about philosophy and family and our responsibility to the world with my funny, brilliant, musically-talented, deeply compassionate, slightly entitled, bright-eyed, morally righteous ENFJs — or ENFJ-adjacent folk.


The truth is that none of us will ever feel like we’re enough. That no goodbye will ever be enough. All the letters to friends and toastings and reflection circles and tight hugs on the driveway outside your residential college as parents load overstuffed boxes and you watch people disappear into the horizon will ever be enough to give us closure. How could it? No memento, no series of gestures — physical or verbal — could ever offer adequate closure to some of the most important relationships of our lives, or at least the current form of those relationships. But perhaps that is not the point. 

If closure is an unattainable goal, if serenity is always asymptotic, it is because these are emotions that cannot be forced — or precipitated. Graduation is not a fracture.  Closure is not a break, a fissure in time, a sudden rupture. You cannot anticipate the experience of loss — or prepare for it in a week. It is in the moments after graduating, when we first discuss having studied economics instead of studying economics, when we see an old friend from freshman year’s first Instagram story in Taiwan that graduation, that we begin to notice the arc of time separating us from our brightest college days. Graduation is the beginning of a process of mourning, and perhaps of rediscovery. A commencement. 

What I describe, then, is not as much an ending as a reimagining. Yes, we will never have as much time to nourish new friendships as we did in college; yes, we may never again be in touch with as many people we love so deeply, but these relationships will evolve as we do. You can move away from an orchard but the smell of roses may still linger in your heart. 

All we can do is to hold on to all of it. The sound of our friends’ laughter. A TV screen saying Victory Royale. Sweaty bodies dancing. A line from an essay that changed your mind. Our favorite words we’ve ever written. The words of a professor we admire, saying we’re going to change the world someday. The way the light falls across your desk in the Slavic Reading Room.The applause. The congratulatory emails. All the good times. The laughter. 

There is no perfect goodbye. But this imperfect one will have to do. 

PRADZ SAPRE is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at pradz.sapre@yale.edu.  

Pradz Sapre is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at pradz.sapre@yale.edu