I have to ask: Does everything really have to end?
I know the short answer to this is, “Yes, of course everything ends.” Through teary eyes, I watched the last scene of F.R.I.E.N.D.S., where the six keys sit all alone on the counter in the empty apartment and, in that moment, I knew that everything ends. But as I watched the cameras pan through the apartment I secretly hoped everyone would come back and that they would bring the barcaloungers and the large porcelain white dog. But I knew they wouldn’t.
Without getting too depressing, people die, stories end, and television shows get canceled out of the blue. (Fifteen years later and I’m still a little bitter about Freaks and Geeks.) So are endings really inevitable?
My logic says yes. You can prolong them or drag them out but eventually there will come a day when everything ends. But my heart screams no. Nothing has to change. You see, I’m the type of person who wants to believe that things can last forever. Don’t believe me? Case in point, I waited six extra months to watch the final season of Parks and Recreation so that I wouldn’t have to face it ending. I stop reading book series one book before the end of the series. If I never finish the last book or watch the last series then Harry Potter never grows up and everyone in the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department works there for the rest of their lives. I want to believe that things can last forever. And when presented with evidence that they won’t, I bury my head deep in the sand.
We see it every day, everywhere. You describe someone as your “BFF,” your best friend forever. You sign a letter to your grandfather, “love always.” You sit through a statistics lecture and complain that it “will never end.” We use those terms loosely and without ever really thinking about what they mean. But can we actually promise always? Can we really say forever?
As a person on the precipice of quite a few endings right now, I ought to man up and face the music. I ought to admit that the end is near. But right now I prefer to live in denial. Denial is a safe, comfortable and warm place to hide. Denial is a cozy bed with a warm blanket in a room that nobody knows about. You can pull the warm blanket over your head and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist. Nothing has to change when you’re in denial; nothing has to end. Everything will be fine and great and exactly how it always has been.
And that mentality has served me well. Denial has been a nice hiding place for now. But that is all that denial is: a hiding place. It’s not a place to stay or a place to live, and no matter how comfortable and warm you feel, deep down you know it’s temporary housing.
The other day I realized that I had to give up my war with change. I realized I’ll never win. The other day, as I shopped online for my graduation gown (other wise known as a way-too-expensive, entirely-polyester, glorified robe), I realized that college is going to end. If you’re a senior in college like I am and you’re reading this, I apologize. Actually, I don’t apologize. The future’s coming whether you want to admit it or not, and if you don’t know now, eventually you’ll realize that denial is temporary housing. I couldn’t stay any longer and neither can you. After all, denial won’t help me get a job, or apply for my first credit card. Denial won’t make it easier to say goodbye to friends, classmates, and to the past four years. Denial won’t help me at all.
Denial won’t help me right now because what we’re all about to do, by graduating, isn’t warm, safe or comfortable. It’s scary. It’s real. And for us at least, it’s uncharted. People always talk about how exciting beginnings are, but I disagree. They are scary as hell. Anyone who says they’re excited for a new beginning is probably only suffering from the perfect combination of anxiety and adrenaline. But that’s what is waiting for us when we finally reach the end of college: a new beginning. I can’t say that I have any spectacular advice for what we should do when we turn that corner, when we start anew. What I can tell you is what I am going to do.
I am going to hug people tight, I’m going to say goodbye for now, not forever, and I’m going to look ahead. What’s that silly quote? “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Well, C.S. Lewis, I hope you’re right. Lord knows that talking lion never helped me very much.