I have always liked school. I like the challenges, the routine and the knowledge I would receive. But, I got bored fast. When I was in high school, I was given the option to graduate a year early… so I did. I graduated early from high school and achieved my associate’s degree. I was well on my way to my bachelor’s. I took some time away from school to find a university that was just right for me, and Loyola University stumbled into my path, and I will be forever grateful.
Loyola wasn’t even on my radar. But, when I toured the campus… I knew I had to be there. I was returning home. I was in love with the atmosphere, with the people, with everything. So it was decided: Loyola it was.
I remember my first day. I moved into my dorm, Biever Hall. I had all my stuff moved in and arranged. It was perfect. I was nervous and excited. I went to orientation and met a guy who is still friends with me to this day. I also met a guy who creeped me the hell out, but that is a story for another day. I remember all my trials throughout my first semester. I thought about leaving Loyola. I felt out of place, lonely and different. That was reasonable considering my circumstances; I had the class ranking of a junior, while living with and having the age of a first year. Where did I belong? With the upperclassmen or the underclassmen? I didn’t know. I then got super involved. I joined Ignacio Volunteers, I went to the gym more, and I made myself go out with people. My second semester ended up so great. I was happy that I didn’t leave.
Fast forward to my second year and senior year. My senior year was one for the record books. I always felt that I lost something not experiencing my senior year of high school, but my last year at Loyola made up for it. I experienced so many things. I lived life like a college student. I didn’t just study. I went out! I went to college concerts, I went to near about all the Mardi Gras parades, I stopped having panic attacks around drunk people. I let loose a bit. I realized, maybe a little too late, that life was not about grades. Life is so much more. Life is about walking around the French Quarter in the rain with a boy that makes your stomach drop and your heart beat hard. Life is about having a girl’s night, watching "New Girl," drinking wine and giggling. Life is about all-nighters and stressful days and heartbreak and joy and crying and screaming and…feeling. Life is not about doing.
I remember when one of my residents came up to me, stressed out about a grade he received. Being a resident assistant gave me the opportunity to give life advice–the life advice that I heard, but never took myself. I used myself as an example of what I was saying. I was 19 and graduating. It was cool, exciting, daunting and, well, bittersweet. I finally discovered how to experience being a college student. Right when I had to leave college.
When graduation rolled around, I was so ready. I had my eyes set on a plane ticket to Ireland, I had my mind and heart stress-free from finals week. I was ready to move on. I didn’t necessarily feel excited, I felt resigned and content. I was graduating. I couldn’t change that. I was ready for my next chapter, even though it meant leaving people that I loved, even though it meant entering into the scary “adult” world, even though it meant that it felt as though my youth was being taken away from me.
It’s now August. My past co-workers are going back to resident assistant training, getting assigned a new list of students–some rosy-cheeked, nervous and new…others jaded, worn and ready to graduate. And as much as I hated RA training, I’d do anything to go back, because that means that I could continue being a college student. I loved my job. A whole lot. I miss it.
It’s now August. New first year students are trying to decide what they want their dorm room to look like, and they are packing far too much stuff to actually fit into the room. First year students are asking their mentors, “Do I need shower shoes?” And the mentors are answering, “Yes. Yes. Double yes. The showers are gross.” First year students are anticipating their teachers, classes, new friends and new experiences.
It’s now August. My now-sophomore residents are packing up to go back to school for their second year… without me, and, honestly, my heart is broken a little bit. I won’t be able to watch them grow and thrive and change even more than they already have. They are cool. They know what to pack, how to pack, how much to pack. They are telling themselves that they really don’t need that fifth Loyola shirt because they are going to get more this upcoming year. They are ready to see their friends again–to get away from their nosy parents again. Wink wink. They want their freedom back. Though, most of them have probably worn down their, “I must experience everything and do everything that my parents wouldn’t want/allow me to do under their roof,” attitude that most first years have. My sophomores, if you are reading this… I love you. I really do. I’m here for you if you need me! And I miss every single one of your hearts. (I’m crying)
It’s now August. My now-junior friends… Holla! You made it this far! Remember when we were all stumbling around Biever trying to figure out how to talk to one another and realizing it isn’t cool to wear lanyards all the time? Wow. Time has gone by. It feels like that was just yesterday, yeah? Junior year is rough. It’s the toughest of the tough, but I believe in you guys. You will make it through! I miss you guys, too. I wish I was with y’all. One more year!
It’s now August… and I am sad. While people are dreading to go back to Loyola, I crave it more than anything else in the world. I desire seeing my friends, learning alongside of them, stressing alongside of them. I miss my professors–the ones that would listen to me ramble on for thirty minutes at a time. I miss my room, my job, my environment. I want to go back, because it is safe. I knew what I had to do every single day, and I knew how to do it. I knew that I had to go to class, get homework done, sleep, eat, and do laundry when my basket couldn’t hold another pair of dirty underwear. I knew what I was doing then, just like I always have when it comes to school, but now, summer is coming to a close for those going to school for the first time, or again. And my summer feels eternal. There is no mark for when “life” has to start. For me, life has started. It started May 13th, the day after I walked the stage. It started that day and I am just now realizing it. I want to go back to Loyola because that is where I am comfortable. My only worries were if I remembered to turn in that Blackboard assignment and to make sure I didn’t oversleep and miss a class (which I did once. I cried. Then I did it again and watched some Netflix, whatever.)
I wish I was going back to Loyola because that is where I feel at home, but now, my home is elsewhere. It is working as a waitress, hostess and florist until I save enough money to go travel. It is here, even though I don’t want it to be here. Even though my heart longs for New Orleans and aches for Loyola. But, oh well. This is life. The only constant is change, and being uncomfortable brings a new depth of character to oneself. So, while I see all y’all’s Facebook posts about dreading school, about not wanting to go back, about that one teacher you know is going to give you hell…know that I wish I was there with you, complaining. Instead, I’m alone, begging to go back, even though it wouldn’t be the same if I returned.
Just as my pre-senior self knew that life was more than just grades, and how my actual senior self realized that life was more than just grades (note the difference, despite the repetitiveness,) I know that life is more than Loyola. Life is more than college… and life doesn’t really start until you’re away from university, but though I know it, it doesn’t mean that I have realized it yet. So, while I sit at home, pining for my love for Loyola to be satisfied, I constantly remind myself that I am more than a student at Loyola. I am a person that has dreams, aspirations and goals. Loyola was only a step to those. I can’t accomplish anything if I decide to stay stuck in the past and stay focused on Loyola. I remind myself that my friends–my real friends–are always going to be there… no matter if they are at Loyola or on Pluto. I remind myself that change is a part of life, and though it is uncomfortable… it is necessary.