I don't want to come off as "salty", but the truth of the matter is that I am very salty. I am very unchill about not being able to have the graduation I had in mind. This is not to take away all the horrible things that happened during the pandemic. I know it is a privilege to attend college and blah blah, I know someone will find a way to twist this, and yet it doesn't take away from my overshadowed achievements and time taken from me. I know in the realm of "bad things", this is nowhere near it, and I am not trying to make it into that. Just reflecting over a milestone I was eager to celebrate.
It didn't really hit me, until I started seeing the class of 2021 graduate, FOMO at its finest. I don't care which way you slice it, the class of 2020 had it the worse. What was supposed to be a "two week" break turned into a year. I left my classmates thinking we were going to resume in two weeks, and I never saw them again.
Seeing the class of 2021 post their graduation pictures reminded me of the memories I don't have. It's not just the celebrating and drinking, it's the last time to say goodbye to my friends. Some of us will still be friends decades from now, but some of us won't. Some of us will get engage and have children, while some of us will die. Some of us will find new partners, while some of us will be cheated on. Graduation was supposed to a last goodbye before our lives changed. To me, it doesn't matter, because if you were part of my life at some point (especially in Chicago), I hold on to that. To share one last time with all my Chicago friends was taken away from me.
Not only did I have no graduation, but I also missed out on my commissioning. I did commission over zoom, and it was nothing like I'd expected. I was jealous of the kids from Chicago, because they had their families near and our Cadre. Since I was home in Florida, it was just another reminder that Chicago schools only cater towards their own, and out of state kids are left in the dust. At least that's how I've felt my entire time in college. My family can't just drive up, I was so excited to have them fly in and my commissioning was like a second reminder of yet another thing I won't have.
Tell me how it is only the class of 2020 that lucked out? At least some of the high school class of 2020 will have a graduation in college. But what about the high schoolers that decide not to go to college? What about their graduation? During the pandemic I was trying so hard not to sound ungrateful, because I know I didn't have it half as bad. And now that I realized how it's affected us all, it sucks to know that there's just a gap in my life.
A time where my entire family was supposed come celebrate my accomplishments. I was so excited to have my grandparents fly from Colombia, to come see where I'd spent the last 5 years of my life. To have my uncle drive up from Tennessee. And it all fell apart right in front of me. I felt so bad graduation was cancelled, I decided to erase it from my mind, act like I didn't care. If I couldn't walk, I didn't want to sit on Zoom and participate in a virtual graduation. I was so disappointed that I pretended it didn't bother me when it was all I could think of.
I mean, college sucked. I lost my best friend to drugs. None of the relationships I invested myself in worked out. I realized I only joined the Army to prove I was tough. I was shopping my feelings away… leaving Chicago was bittersweet, but mostly bitter. The riots, the injustice, while living in a downtown studio was numbing. It kept me out of touch with reality. I had become so used to seeing myself through other peoples' lenses, I had no idea who tf I was. I just wanted to celebrate graduating college without losing my fucking mind, becoming a sugar baby, or putting myself second to another relationship that wouldn't have worked out.
I can't help but look at everyone that graduated in 2021 and be so rage blinding jealous. The other graduating classes have something I could never have and that's time. I could try to have a "graduation party" now, but it's too late. My friends are deploying, and we all ended living in such different places, it's nearly impossible to have everyone together. I know people are going to try to down play the graduating class of 2020 because other injustices were going on. I don't want to make it sounds like this is more important by any means. I just want to share what it took me so long to acknowledge.
I thought I was above feeling sad, so I didn't have a graduation party. But I am not. I miss my college friends, and the next time we will all be together will probably be a decade from now.
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