I’ve moved six times in my life, and when I say “move,” I’m not talking about a simple zip code change.
I’m talking about shipping my belongings by air and by sea, overcoming the jet lag of a 12-hour time-zone shift the day before starting a new school year and overhauling my wardrobe for a completely different climate. That kind of move.
And each time, as I packed everything into boxes and suitcases, squeezed my friends tight for the last time and waved goodbye to local landmarks on the way to the airport, I felt like I had been caught in a riptide.
Even once I became an old hand at moving, I was never really prepared for the wave of emotions I’d feel the second the move was underway.
I’m not graduating this year, but in times of massive turnover for the campus, a part of me gets swept up in all those feelings, too. Mostly, I find myself empathizing with people – departing seniors, folks studying abroad who won’t see Foggy Bottom again until January or even freshmen who’ve grown attached to Thurston Hall and can’t imagine not living there next year – who feel like the seas are churning around them at this time of year.
But as someone who can definitely say she’s been there before, I want to offer a little something to steady the ship.
Even when nothing seems consistent or predictable, it’s possible to find comfort by looking back at the solid base you’ve already established and the people it has reliably featured.
Your college career might have been rocky, but if so, it still is what it is. It was a period of time you spent largely in one small geographic region, working toward one goal, surrounded by many of the same people, frequenting the same spots and complaining about the same annoyances.
For better or for worse, your time at GW has been a chunk of your life. But consider this chunk completed. Move on to the next chunk – whatever it may look like – keeping in mind that this one will stay in place.
Having this base means there will always be people from this time of your life with whom you have something in common. They’re those GW people of yours: You anxiously texted them when an earthquake hit D.C., played drinking games with them when you were holed up during Hurricane Sandy or ran to the White House with them on election night.
They’re your people. They never won’t be your people, and even if you do a terrible job at keeping in touch with them, those connections can never really be unmade.
I had a close friend in the early part of high school who moved away at the end of ninth grade. We met up the summer before we came to college – it was the first time we had seen each other in three years.
And though we had both changed a great deal and had so much to catch up on, we didn’t have to start from scratch. He was still a close friend, and the second we saw each other again, all that affection that I had felt for him every day when we lived in the same place – but that I hadn’t been reminded of for several years – swept right back over me.
I haven’t seen him since that summer, but I know that whenever I do, whether it’s this year or five years from now, the same will happen again: I’ll feel all that love that I once knew despite not grooming it regularly. And it’s because he’s one of my people, from a particular time in my life.
So whether your GW story is ending, pausing or just changing a little, you’re anchored by the experiences you’ve already had and the people that are already yours. The next parts of your life may seem unclear right now, but remember that everything you’ve done so far has already been, well, done.
Robin Jones Kerr, a junior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.