by James Esposito
When I woke up on Commencement morning, the day felt no different than the one before. I was excited to graduate, sure, but something felt disconnected. Going through the rehearsal, where they taught us how to walk in an alphabetical line, I felt like I was preparing for someone else’s graduation. I got to applaud for my friends and appreciate the successes that the ceremony represents, but I hadn’t yet begun to feel that my time here was over.
On birthdays, people sometimes ask how it feels to be whatever new age is being celebrated, but I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced it like that —- a hardline change where I go to sleep one way and wake up another.
Change is gradual, and it’s always happening. Momentous occasions signifying life transitions, like graduation, can often be emotionally difficult for this reason. I can only speak for my own experience here, but when change comes in these concentrated bursts, it can be hard to reconcile when the shift actually occurs. One moment, I’m who I have been for four years, living in the place and with the people I have been for four years, and the next I’m whoever comes after, doing whatever comes after.
Was it when I shook President O’Shea’s hand and took my diploma? That’s certainly the moment society and potential employers would cite. Or was it at the final faculty meeting when they went through the class and decided who would walk? Or was it before then, when I passed my thesis defense and knew, for the first time, that I was officially done?
In a sense, these were all steps in the process of my own recognition. But more notably were the small moments: teary-eyed goodbyes, coming far too early; a last drink at Memories, listening to “Welcome to the Future” in a dark, smoky room; watching the sunset sky become a pastel rainbow over the bay.
New College will always be special to me. I walked out of this school with a greater wealth of knowledge and experiences than I could have before conceived, and I was inspired every step of the way by my peers, who are doing some of the most honest, important, and impassioned work I’ve ever seen. I’m proud to look at this institution full of engaged thinkers and compassionate human beings working towards the betterment of the world and know that they helped guide me to become who I am today.
But New College, like graduation, is a liminal space. You go in, you learn, you change, and you take all that and do with it what you will as you move on into the world outside the bubble. The sun is setting on my time here, but soon it will be the morning of the rest of my life.
Goodnight, New College.