I’m leaving Hope in less than a month. I have to keep repeating that to myself. Graduation is a terrifying thing and it’s something I’ve been struggling with since the last day of my junior year. With only a few weeks left, I’ve tried to come to terms, but there’s still some soul searching left to be done.
I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about why I can’t shake the bad feelings and so far, there are three major reasons for this: my love for Hope, my uncertain future and my egotistical tendencies.
My love for Hope
I love Hope College. I have ever since I first came to visit in the ninth grade. It pulled me in and kept me. Throughout my years here, I’ve seen new buildings go up and old favorites tumble down. I’ve watched as college legends retired and new leadership took place. And with each change that came to campus, I changed a little on the inside, too.
You may see me now as an introvert, but believe me when I tell you I’ve made leaps and strides from where I was during orientation weekend. I was the quiet girl who didn’t really have a place. I questioned my major, my friends and my choices. I questioned why I was even at Hope.
But I gave it time and everything smoothed out. I learned to better handle stressful situations and I learned to mellow out. I went from being the girl who was taken too seriously to the girl who’s not taken seriously enough (still a problem, but I’m working on it).
I’ve met some insanely amazing people while I’ve been here, and they are some of the most important people in my life. Some stuck around since freshman year (like my roommate of four years, Christina), some I picked up due to strange circumstances (I’m looking at you, Kassandra) and some popped up just as I’m about to leave this place (though I hope this isn’t the end, Sophie and Julian).
I wondered if I was afraid to leave Hope because of these things individually, but the truth of the matter is, all of these came about because I attended Hope. I can’t separate one from the other. Hope has the ability to bring people together to create a community where everyone is free to learn and grow and meet new people who are going through the same things as you. I won’t have this community once I graduate.
My uncertain future
I don’t have a full-time job lined up for after May 8. I don’t even have a part-time job. Knowing all of this, I still have managed to turn down numerous job offers that probably wouldn’t have been so bad, and I may have been able to talk myself into it, but I didn’t. I don’t think I was supposed to.
Right now, the plan is to continue to get freelance video and writing/copy editing gigs, which I have already started to accumulate. Freelance pays well, but it’s not consistent.
Sometimes I wonder what the heck I’m doing. My need to always stay busy and work from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. every day makes me regret turning those jobs down. But my heart pumps louder than the voices in my head and tells me I’m making the right decision.
My mom put it perfectly in a text last week: “If you’re taking (the job) only out of fear, you’ll find something that’s probably not cool. Faith is cooler.”
Faith is cooler. Job searching is scary and often we feel that we have to take whatever job is offered to us. But what if you can feel it in your soul that it’s not the right choice? God is telling you something. You need to trust Him. I don’t have a job lined up, but I know the ones offered were not what God had planned for me. He will provide in His timing.
The problem I have is being patient. I’m not a patient person. I need to step back, take a breath and stop trying to control everything. Easier said than done.
My egotistical tendencies
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I think a little too highly of myself. Of course, this is intertwined with self-loathing, so I’d like to think it evens itself out. I’m proud of all the great things I’ve been able to accomplish in just four years, but it doesn’t feel like enough.
Me leaving Hope means that I’ll be… gone. The people who know me best are either leaving at the same time or will be within the next year. After that, no one will know who Nicole Metzler was. After everything I’ve been through at this school, it doesn’t seem fair.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but not everyone likes to admit it. We’re ashamed to say that we think so much of ourselves that we think we need to be remembered for years to come.
I stay awake at night and wonder if I’m leaving a legacy behind. It haunts me into sleeplessness. And maybe saying it’s egotistical isn’t correct because I don’t want this legacy for purely selfish reasons. I want a legacy that shows what I contributed to this great school. I want people to look back and think about how I was a good student leader who helped to bring Hope to where it is today.
I want to leave my mark on an institution that marked me. Maybe I have. But it doesn’t feel like enough.
It’s time to realize that legacies aren’t everything. It’s okay to be forgotten because if I really, truly just wanted to add my contributions to this school, I wouldn’t care if people knew I was behind the changes, I’d just be happy that the changes were made.
In the next few weeks, I’ll struggle. During Honors Convocation, Baccalaureate and Commencement, I’ll struggle. Even well into my post-undergrad era, I’ll struggle. Hope has had a hold on me for longer than just the four years I spent here and I know it’ll keep holding me until I die. But I’ll get through it. In a moment’s time, I will be an alum. And I will be okay.