Five and a half years ago, I walked into the Xavier’s first quad along with my best friend full of hope and joy at leaving my small suburb behind. I didn’t have any idea how much my life was going to change that moment – in that one moment I was happy to have made it to the college of my dreams, to have proved the people who told me Humanities was a futile endeavour a little wrong by choosing to pursue what I loved instead of what would probably land me a stable job and an easy future.
When I came to Xavier’s I didn’t know who I was – I had maybe two friends and we were shaky at best. I was afraid to tell people that what I liked best was reading and writing but thankfully, that was the best thing to tell people at Xavier’s. I met my best friend on the first day and when she told me her grades, I was so disappointed that once again, I had managed to befriend all the nerdiest people I could find. My hopes of finally being one of the popular kids were dashed right then and there.
But at fifteen, I had expected too much and too little of my time at Xavier’s. I wanted it to be this magical time, where I would study what I loved (this actually happened) and be popular and party and be cool (this did not happen). I made loads of friends, learned so much and finally found myself in those five years at college.
This past week has been full of longing to return to Xavier’s. I want to go back to what I called home for five years, I want to see the same people I saw for years, sat with during break and traded stories and had discourses with, I want to curse myself for choosing subjects I knew would drive me mad, I want to go back to double-lit lectures where I fall asleep during the class reading of Hamlet, I just want to go back to the familiarity.
It was difficult, giving up that daily safety to come far away from home, to somewhere you know maybe one person if you’re lucky. It’s been a while since I had to second-guess my humour, since I had to think before I playfully traded jabs with another person, since I felt I belonged somewhere. Because Xavier’s wasn’t just a place where I studied and then went back home – I carved my entire social circle around people there, channelled my work and my being into being a part of it for a really, really long time.
By the time SY came around, we stopped giving fucks about what people thought. We were comfortable enough in our own skin, our own groups and our own selves. We knew the people in college, we did things that were familiar and routine and safe. We were okay. We were happy and content.
Then graduation came along and split everyone up. Sure, some of us landed closer to each other than others. But five years seemed to have passed by in seconds and now there was no knowing when we would all be together again. There was no knowing when we’d find another place we truly felt at home again.
I will forever be grateful for the age I live in – I can see what my friends are up to in different countries, continents and time-zones and send them messages of appreciation or love immediately. I can video-call my best friend for five and a half hours or ring in the new year over drinks over Skype at the annual sleepover (even though I’m in my room, miles and miles away) with my group or send them daily snaps as a way of checking-in to make sure we’re alright. It takes effort, that’s true. It takes effort to remember to call or to text, especially when you’re busy and are making other friends and settling in a totally new place.
I know I’m glad it’s over, some things in life have to end at the right time otherwise they’ll stagnate. That’ll turn what you loved into something you hate. I know all that. It’s just a little hard to remember why it had to end when I’m struggling with making friends, constantly on unsure footing, having to actually check myself from over-sharing or befriending the wrong person. When you second-guess if you’re cool enough or funny enough or whatever enough to justify asking x person to be your friend. It’s hard to put yourself out there again when you’ve grown so used to a sheltered, protected circle of support and love.
But you do it. Because you have to. It makes you appreciate your friends better. It makes you appreciate what you had a little more, and this time you’re armed with the knowledge that there are people who love you and it’s okay if you fail this time.
I miss Xavier’s, it was home for me. But it’s okay because the building or the college itself wasn’t home, it was the people that are still around, that are still an incredibly important part of my life. Once we all figure out what’s happening and have a little more control over our lives, we’ll be back to the grind.
Meanwhile, I’ll just reminisce about my youthful college days with my best friends as I grow older and wiser and bitter and still fall asleep in lit lectures.
Until next time,