By their nature, college students are detailed organizers. We budget our time for every academic, social, athletic, extracurricular, and personal event imaginable. Most use Google Calendar, commonly referred to as “gcal,” to maximize the efficiency of their daily routine. Others are more anachronistic in their weekly scheduling. I fall into this category, as a devoted sticky note user with a leather-bound planner always in hand. As I approached my final semester of schooling last January, I mustered all the knowledge I had about college life to ensure that I would finish on a high note.
The first two-thirds of the semester would be dominated by my senior thesis and preparing for an important job interview, so I had to make a plan. I peeled off a couple orange sticky notes and wrote down my college bucket list: Friends, new and old, to get drinks with for the last time; local restaurants to try for the first time; professors to thank for their incredible seminars; places in New Haven, a city I have come to love, to explore; and familiar spots on campus to reminisce about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past four years. I pasted these notes in my planner for the week my thesis would be due, April 6 to be exact, anticipating the sharp reduction in academic obligations.
Unfortunately, my grand strategy did not account for an interruption by a global pandemic. College life consisted of watching lectures on Zoom and commiserating in group chats with fellow seniors strewn across the world. With classes universally online and graduation festivities canceled, this lifestyle became the new norm for seniors for months. I had always associated the cliché “don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today” with accomplishing homework or a household chore. By putting off my bucket list and not prioritizing the people and spaces that made these four years so great, I failed to appreciate them. The notion of telling an acquaintance “let’s grab a meal” and not following through on the plan has been a college meme for years. To my friends, and therefore my victims of this, I am sorry. The hard lesson I have learned through this crisis is that the relationships and places I took for granted can be taken away in an instant. Perhaps this is the perfect lesson for a graduating senior to understand.
I am surely not alone in feeling a deep sense of regret and nostalgia despite still technically being a young, wide-eyed college student. With age comes the lamentation of having made mistakes in the past, a fact of life already apparent to me. But what I have come to understand through this upheaval is the sadness of running out of time to be with the people I love. This is a lesson I did not expect to learn until much later in life.
We plan out our lives on calendars physically and virtually because uncertainty scares us. The precarious state that college seniors now find ourselves in covers the academic, social, emotional, physical, and professional aspects of our existence. The primary objective of college is the degree conferred upon us at the end of our undergraduate education. However, I am not alone in yearning not for the pageantry of graduation, but for the chance to spend more time with close friends on a campus and in a city that has become a second home. Still, we remain rational; nobody demanded a return to the classrooms or to hold graduation ceremonies at their regularly scheduled dates. What is it, then, that we desire? A few days, maybe a week, to revisit our campuses with our classmates to rejoice at the academic institution that brought us together. Such an event obviously will not happen in the near future, perhaps not for many months. But I can guarantee that when word of such a delayed celebration reaches my email inbox, a brightly colored sticky note will mark the occasion, giving me the hope I am so desperately looking for.
Joshua Hano| email@example.com