The Last Four Years

I think it’s common for graduating seniors to look back, to reflect on their four years of education, whether they’re graduating from high school or college. For some, the eagerness to escape those years outweighs the tendency to mark the changes that have happened in their lives during those years. Maybe they experienced a string of bad memories that leaves the words “high school” or “college” like a bad taste in their mouths. Maybe they were only ever in it for the piece of paper that qualifies them for the next step in their lives.

But for some people, the thought of graduation leaves more of a melancholy settled over their minds. They were good years, spent with good friends and spent growing and learning new things. I would count myself among this number. While I am eager to see what this new stage in my life will bring, I can’t help but remember what I’m leaving behind.

I’ve been trying to ignore my impending graduation, but it finally dawned on me last night as I was drafting my editor’s letter/farewell that will go in the front pages of my college’s literary magazine. I’m leaving. Though I promised myself it wouldn’t happen, I found myself tearing up while writing heartfelt messages to faculty and fellow students, an ode to the last four years and the time I’ve spent as an English major. They’ve all been such a huge impact on my life, it will be strange not to walk those halls anymore, to talk with all of them.

But the change in myself over these last years is undeniable. I entered college with a love for writing, but without knowing what I wanted to do. I tried to force myself into things that I liked, but didn’t necessarily love, all to get a “real job” and be secure. It didn’t work. I eventually migrated over to English, and I’ve loved every minute of it (even the stressful ones, because I still knew what I was doing, and knew it was what I was meant to be doing). In 2011 I was an eighteen/nineteen-year-old freshman with a vague goal to be a writer on the side and, besides that, who knows? Maybe a psychiatrist (I entered as a Psych major). That November, I participated in my first NaNoWriMo and writing became more of a reality. Now, in 2015, I have written three novels, completely revising and editing one (six times) and now I’m sending it out to agents. I am an intern for a literary agency. I lived in California for six weeks, on my own, attending a creative writing workshop in the heart of the Bay Area. I am the president of my college’s literary club and editor of its literary magazine.

I truly believe I have accomplished more in the last four years than in my entire life before college. Not that I’m afraid those accomplishments will go away or become unimportant after May 17, but I will be distanced from them. Funny how, after graduation, something can go from “I did that last year” to “I did that in college,” like college is on Mars. But at least now I have a purpose. I have skills taught to me by the best professors I could have possibly imagined (better, actually), and a plethora of things I can do with them.

And still, it’s hard to go.

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About Jenna

I am 24 years old, with a bachelor's degree in English. I am currently querying a YA fantasy about assassins and magical powers, and I'm revising another YA fantasy based on Mayan civilization!
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2 Responses to The Last Four Years

  1. Kathy Palm says:

    Nearly 20 years ago, I left college with an art degree, wanting to be an illustrator, but having no idea how to do that. 10 years ago, with two toddlers, I decided I wanted to be a writer… yup, in my thirties. I am jealous of how you know what you want to do and have begun to chase that dream so early. I applaud you for having those three mss written. I say BRAVO for putting yourself out there with queries. I also want to tell you to breathe. Enjoy your time. Your moment to shine as a published author WILL COME! Don’t sweat those rejections. Don’t let all the things you want overshadow your accomplishments. I think you’re pretty darn awesome. Someday, I’ll be reading your book. A big *HIGH FIVE* for YA fantasy, it’s a tough genre/category already full of so many books! Keep going. Keep smiling.

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