Where do I begin? That’s the question, isn’t it? How do you process what ended up being the best years of your entire life so far? How do you accept that it’s all coming to an end and you have to move on? It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. I started college as most people do: Alone and afraid of what comes next. But I think I might be ending college differently than some people. Hopefully not, but it might be so. I’m not afraid, and I’m most certainly not alone anymore.
The first thing I did when I came to UConn was make as many friends as I possibly could. What I didn’t expect was that I’d find a family; people that would take me under their wing, teach me everything they knew, care about me unconditionally for every moment I know them. I almost wrote “knew“ there. It’s easy to think that this is the end, and in some ways it is. It’s the end of staying up until 4 a.m. at the Daily Campus, or even pulling all-nighters to watch the sun rise across Horsebarn Hill. It’s the end of being surrounded by some of the most hilarious, utterly ridiculous people I have met in my entire life who laugh together, cry together, sing at the top of their lungs and dance like nobody’s watching together.
Everyone says that college is important for the degree. What nobody mentions is that it’s important for the soul. I saw the sun rise and set more times in the last two years than I have in my entire life. I danced under the moonlight with a girl in my arms as the rest of the world melted away. I learned about the world but I learned more about myself than anything else.
It sparked an unwitting, monumental journey of self discovery. I still don’t know who I am, but I know who I want to be because of the people around me. Because I was constantly encouraged to be a better student, a better son, a better employee, a better leader, a better boyfriend, a better mentor, a better roommate, a better me.
I’m not afraid because I’ll always know love and I’ll always know friendship. I may not know the next steps but I know there will always be people who will lend a hand when life inevitably brings me to my knees. I know that there are humans beings who shine so bright that just thinking about how much I love them, and am loved back by them, chases away the darkness.
I wear my heart on my sleeve, if it wasn’t evident by this column. I’ve cried so many times and I haven’t even graduated yet. It feels like the end but I know in my head that it’s not (my heart is still trying to catch up to that idea). Thank you to my parents, thank you to my Daily Campus colleagues and to those in the CLAS Dean’s office, thank you to my roommates, thank you to my professors and thank you to my mentors elsewhere. Thank you to everyone I pass by on Fairfield Way, thank you to everyone at UConn, thank you to the guy in Starbucks who told me I’d need to shave if I wanted to get the job that I want. We’re all a part of the world and a part of each other.
That’s why this isn’t the end. Everything I’ve experienced can’t be taken away. While the tears collect in the corners of my eyes as I write this, my heart and my soul could not be more full.
Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.