None of us ever expected it to end this way: being a senior and expecting to graduate in May, but instead ending our college career during a pandemic, has been nothing short of a growing and emotional experience.
My unknowingly last moments on campus were spent packing a bag for spring break. As I packed, my roommates and I evaluated our “Senior Year Bucket List.” We admired what we had accomplished and strategized how we would complete the final items upon returning from break.
Going home for a break is always refreshing and appreciated, but this year it was a little different. Break had not yet begun and I was already looking forward to returning to school. I couldn’t wait to find out what my final months of college would hold.
But things changed a lot that week. Spring Break turned into an extended Spring Break, which turned into a couple of weeks of online schooling. March 20 brought the dreaded news that the rest of the semester would be completed virtually and graduation would be postponed.
As my new reality set in, the tears steadily flowed, mourning the loss of what should have been. I wasn’t mad or angry, but felt a deep sense of disappointment.
I would never spend another night in my townhome.
I would never work another event for my student worker job.
I would never check my mail box again to find a letter from my mom.
I would never sit in the Student Center talking to friends when I should have been studying.
I would never go to class in Watkins again.
These senior year emotions had already begun building far before the Coronavirus entered the scene. But the abrupt ending felt like the Band-Aid had been ripped off. My classmates and I lost our “lasts” and our goodbyes. The next chapter of our stories is beginning with no closure on the last one.
I have wrestled with these emotions, feeling guilty for being upset when so many are suffering and fighting battles much greater than my college ending. But I have been affirmed by other seniors that these feelings are valid and a loss of any kind should be acknowledged.
But here’s the thing. Amid the losses and the hurt and the sadness, I have felt so seen and so loved and so close to the Lord.
I have been sad, but how fortunate am I that I have a community that is so dear to me that I miss it? There was a time where the tables were turned and I was crying because I missed home and couldn’t find my place or my people at AU. Over the past four years the Lord has truly turned my mourning into dancing and my struggles into strongholds.
I feel certain He will carry us through this next season, just as He has done up until now.
Yes, it has been weird adjusting back to living in our parents’ households. Yes, online classes are annoying. Yes, this isn’t what we imagined our final months of college would look like.
But let’s thank the Lord for our precious time at Anderson and what her community means to each of us. After all, “there’s one thing that only God can know…what Anderson means to me.”
So here’s to taking it day by day, acknowledging these days are ordained by our Father with a perfect plan in mind. Here’s to giving ourselves grace since we’ve never done this before. Here’s to doing our best.
Bailey Westbrook is a senior Communication-Public Relations major with minors in business and marketing. She is from Rock Hill, SC where she lives on her family’s farm. Upon graduating she hopes to begin expanding the family business. She hopes to share her love of agriculture with others through providing fresh produce to the community and agritourism. Want to share your story? Click here to learn how.