I was back recently at DePauw University, a place that holds a special spot in my head and heart. It was a tough day, the campus having been shut down 64 days prematurely. Countless experiences and memories prematurely.
Watching them pack to leave was all too reminiscent of May 19, 2019, when I said the hardest goodbyes of my life. It still feels bittersweet. I won’t claim to know what these students are feeling right now; I can’t. Nor do I have some profound insight on life or the world.
Leaving college is a big change, often in ways I didn’t anticipate. On campus, I was surrounded by peers. I had a schedule and a structure. And I had a primary purpose – to graduate. Science tells us some of the most important predictors of happiness are meaningful relationships, a sense of purpose and direction, a sense of belonging and involvement in things that interest you. Being on a residential campus afforded me a surplus of these predictors.
Since graduating, I’ve found it hard to replace some of these people and circumstances. This has been very difficult for me, but it also motivates me to reach out to the people I miss. I’ve found that, although we don’t see each other for every meal anymore, our relationships haven’t weakened. If anything, they are strengthened by yet another shared experience, missing each other.
"Some days you will wish you could go back to the way it was. But there will also be days where you find yourself celebrating victories ..."
That’s why I feel moved to share my story, to inform readers who might be going through these changes that they are not alone. In fact, they're a part of a much bigger community than they might realize. And maybe that’s something that you can take away from this piece, in a time that feels so far from normal, what you’re experiencing is completely normal.
This next phase of your life will be uncertain. And you will be sad at times. And you will miss people. And some days you will wish you could go back to the way it was. But there will also be days where you find yourself celebrating victories, big and small. You will feel yourself starting to grow. And out of the uncertainty will grow a sense of resiliency. And from that resiliency will grow adaptability, and ultimately normalcy.
To read Gold’s full blog entry, go here.