Thoughts On Graduating from College

Most people who have graduated from college have fond recollections on the connections and relationships they formed during their time there. Whether it be friends, colleagues, co-workers, or even romantic partners, there is an expectation that you know someone you met from college. Despite the major disruption caused by the global pandemic, I still managed to form a new friendship, join a club, and maintained a connection from someone I met from community college. The last semester was partially in-person, so I was given a taste of normalcy before I earned my bachelor’s. It pains me to say this, but as much as I appreciate the few connections I made, I still feel like I missed a couple of years of my life.

Sitting behind the computer screen, toiling away at my work, and reading dozens of pages of literature was part of my weekly routine. While there were some months of respite in between thanks to summer break, my experiences with college are largely defined by the labor rather than the people. In hindsight, I should’ve tried to get one student’s number before the shutdown in 2020. Perhaps he and I could’ve been friends. I wonder where he is today and how he’s doing. This is an example of these lost connections that still haunt me to this day. I obviously acknowledge the futility of this retrospective feeling of shame or regret, but it enlightened me on the beauty of human interaction.

As someone who considers himself highly introverted, being sequestered inside the house as a result of the pandemic for the past year and a half exposed how little I understood the value of interpersonal relationships. Now that I am inoculated against the disease that continues to infect an innumerable amount of people, I have a sense of urgency to find opportunities to connect with more people. I feel socially bankrupt in a way that is unfamiliar to me. While this feeling of social bankruptcy is divorced from reality (I still see friends on a regular basis and stay in touch with them), it is ultimately a symptom of social isolation imposed by the pandemic. It no longer was safe to have in-person activities on campus for over a year, so we had to be confined to a computer. I am lucky to live in such a convenient location where all of my classes were within walking distance when the semester returned to in-person. However, I only spent one and a half of my classes in-person whereas the rest of it was remote.

Whenever I drive past the different campuses, seeing the diverse group of people around my age congregate and socialize, or simply go about their routine, gives me this ineffable feeling of nostalgia for a life I had barely experienced. Walking around on campus in the spring 2020 semester, weeks before the shutdown, felt like a different world to me. It was a beginning that came to a sudden end. It was a new chapter in my life that never started. When I returned, I resumed reading the last few pages of that chapter, despite having never fully read it. What friends would I have made along the way? Would I have formed a strong friendship with the fellow shy students who opened up to me? These are all questions that have yet to be answered and will never be answered. I am no longer in college, so the past has become irrelevant. (Unless, of course, I choose to go for my Master’s.)

I take pride in graduating with such high academic achievements. Who wouldn’t? I don’t consider myself an intellectual by any means, but that does not delegitimize the consistently high grades for each semester, including one junior semester that nearly broke me. I should know that my college experience was fruitful. It made me a stronger writer and a sharper thinker, which drove me to become a successful independent blogger earning millions of dollars. That last part you could take for a grain of salt, but my relationship with college is a complicated one. I cherish the small moments of camaraderie between the students, be it in-person or virtual, and I admire the bustling nature of the campus life. It feels like I am walking in a small city full of young, like-minded people. Perhaps I should consider taking some graduate classes and begin working towards an MFA, but that is something to contemplate for another day.

I don’t regret taking online classes for the majority of my time at Rutgers. I still have fond memories at the university, despite the limited amount of time I had on campus. I have become more enamored by cinema as an artform ever since I started taking cinema studies courses. My skills as a writer and thinker have significantly improved. This academic exposure may not be entirely useful for every writing job I apply to, but it is certainly relevant to who I am as a person. As much as I yearn for the campus life experience, I am still satisfied with the fact that I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree and will always take pride in that.

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Peter Finaldi

Graduate at Rutgers University. Writes about movies, video games, and anything else that I find interesting. My twitter: @PeterJFinaldi