Having completed our final exams and checked off the last events in our university social schedules, people have begun to slowly trickle away, down their respective routes of work or play. Never to return again. The rest of us now stand sombrely behind. The final contestants. The last men standing. Shadows of our former fresh faced and expectant selves. We spend our final days of freedom stuffing the place we once called home into bags to take away. We view the impending future with apprehension, even terror. And no flaming torch has been passed down to us. I’m still searching for that beacon of hope though.
Far from the high spirits I traditionally associate with freedom, I have an intense feeling of unease, which I try my best to supress, but which bubbles up inside of me at regular intervals. The life of an almost-graduate with very few prospects is purposeless. It has little substance. Days consist of frantic panic about the future, whereby I am convinced that I will leave Reading and fall from the face of the earth. Eventually I’ll assure myself that it will be okay, until another of my peers announces an offer of work has been bestowed upon them – thus ensues more panic – repeating the whole hideous procedure. The uncertainty that comprises my future is utterly terrifying. But the only thing more frightening: Certainty. Securing a real job, complete with real responsibility and a strict schedule to adhere to. It’s a strange and scary paradox and I can’t quite work out which is worse.
But in writing this – my final post from Reading – I’ve realised that my apprehension may have skewed my vision. The misery I felt at the mere mention of moving on reduced me to a quivering mess. Because, we have had the most fantastic, hedonistic, irresponsible, hilarious and wonderful time here. And I don’t want to go yet. But in desperately trying to cling on to the life I had, I’m neglecting to really consider the future I could have. Change is a-coming. It is inevitable – no matter how much I try to deny it. And now is not the time to merely accept the fact. It’s time to embrace it. Life goes on, and if you linger in the past you get left behind. And of course it’s terrifying. But that makes it all the more exciting. I’m a little bit lost, it’s true. I don’t know where I’m going yet. Which means I can go anywhere. There is no clear path marked out for me, which will make the journey fairly tumultuous, I’m sure. Navigation never has been my forte, but so long as I keep on moving, slowly I’ll find my way. And although I know it is vital for my mental wellbeing that I leave the past behind, I’m still resiliently retaining that youthful sense of uninhibited optimism which tells me, at this point at least, that the possibilities are endless
So this is goodbye – to University, to 79 Blenheim Road, the street where we lived, to walking up the stairs and finding my best friends there, to jumping on the bed whilst listening to Ronan Keating, to eating pasta for breakfast, to the daily house meeting on the stairwell to discuss last night’s happenings, to the late night library sessions, to spontaneous trips to sub-89, to stumbling (still slightly drunk) to 9am seminars, to the students union – our sacred meeting place which holds so many happy (and slightly disturbed) memories, to Q bar Mondays, to attempting to squeeze fifteen of us around a table designed for four, to Friday night fondue, to Sonning Saturdays, to the motley crew. In hindsight it really was too good to be true. And although we’re leaving all of this behind, it really isn’t the end of anything at all, but rather, the beginning of everything. Reading, it’s been wonderful and I will miss you endlessly. But change is a-coming. And tomorrow sadly we must say farewell. But now, on this lovely summers evening, on our last Wednesday night- Let’s go and pull some shapes in the Union. One more time.