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This is the final countdown

Scary musings on the unknown that follows graduation

<p>Lucie Drahozal is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Lucie Drahozal is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

My final days of undergrad have arrived. However, they did not come soon enough. I think seven out of my eight semesters I have had the wonderful fortune of tests scheduled on the last exam day or at least the second-to-last day — this semester was no different. 

For the past four fall semesters, I have dreaded being practically the last student left at the University. The end of the fall semester consists of near-empty bars and restaurants, the sun setting at 4 p.m. and eerily silent frat houses and apartment complexes. It’s sad — other than the lights that illuminate the Rotunda. Everyone is excited to go home for their month-long winter break, yet there I am, still in Charlottesville and dreading the three-hour block of test-taking that still looms ahead of me. 

Strangely enough, though, I love being one of the last students left at the University in the spring. In the spring, warm weather brings people out of their houses, even if they still have work to do. Students would rather soak up the sun with their friends one last time than worry about that final paper due the next day. I love the consensual sense of procrastination and excitement about finally being done with school work for the time being. 

Even though I am at the end of my time at the University, I am still enjoying this feeling. It is as though you are suspended in time — not literally, of course, since your time is still marked by final project deadlines and exams. But nevertheless, you are not stressed out by having constant homework, meetings and practices. You are just studying and wrapping up your classes or hanging out with your friends before everyone leaves. There’s really no in between. 

Some of my friends finished their classes much earlier. A few of my third-year friends have already moved out and are back home, all finished. They didn’t have to think about graduating in a week or moving out of Charlottesville for good. They don’t have to consider how they will be entering an entirely new segment of their lives. They are mostly living with ease. Maybe some of them returned for graduation celebrations, but I’m sure at least some couldn’t wait to get out of Cville and start their summers. 

I don’t envy them, though. I have never envied the people who get to finish out spring semester early. Sure, I envy their lack of work, but that’s about it. 

Each spring semester, I get to watch people trickle out. Most people are reluctant to leave, relishing their time left at this school. Most students try to squeeze in one last outing to Trin or one last movie night with their friends. I love seeing people love the place that I love so much — and that is the joy of being here in the spring. But, the joy this time around also comes with a lot of fear. 

This weekend, I graduate. I am scared for sure, but I think that goes without saying. On a much smaller scale, it seems much like our men’s basketball team entering the National Championship two years ago. 

Our men’s basketball team had never been to a championship game before. Never. They knew what they were supposed to do — win, obviously. They know the game. They know the players. They know the opponent. But they don’t know the outcome. No matter how many times they had been in scary, nail-biting situations before, there was no way to prepare for this final game. 

Similarly, I know what I am supposed to do post-grad. I eventually need to find a “real person”  job. I know where I will be living. I know who I will be surrounded by, and it is nothing I haven’t done before. But there’s just no way to prepare for the feeling of leaving Charlottesville behind. There’s no way to prepare to be thousands of miles apart from the people who were around the corner from you just weeks ago. 

That part is scary. The anticipation of that feeling — of actually leaving Charlottesville for good — is scary. There’s just no way around it. The game must be played. It will come and then it will be over. 

The suspension of time that I cherish ended once exams ended. Once the dorms, sororities, fraternities and apartments are practically empty, the anticipation of that feeling started to creep in. Yes, it was temporarily halted by wild graduation celebrations. Though, I know it will come back. 

I sound like I’m writing about a plague or a ghost that haunts a town or something. But honestly, it is somewhat like that. Leaving Charlottesville — and all of the emotions that come with the University — is unavoidable and terrifying, especially as someone who does not deal with change very well. 

However, I also know that I fear this moment because I have loved my time at this University so much. 

I wouldn’t be half as scared to enter this new phase of my life if I couldn’t wait to get out of here. If I hated my time in CVille, and never made the friends I did, I’m sure I would be so excited to graduate, leave and start anew.

Fortunately, I don’t have those thoughts. Instead, I am living in comfort right now. I am spending my last days and nights walking around Grounds, frequenting the Corner, eating tons of ice cream at my friend’s apartment, getting dinner with first and second years who are getting ready to move out. 

Yet, I know that that fear of the unknown is coming my way very soon. And as unexcited I am to be overwhelmed by moving out and leaving Charlottesville, I am so grateful that I will be that way. I am so thankful that I dread leaving. I have tears in my eyes just writing this. And that is such a blessing. 

As cliche as it has become, it really is like that A.A. Milne quote that reads, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Thank you for making moving on so scary. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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