I didn’t understand why Homecoming is so great until recently. I’ve always enjoyed Homecoming — the food, the football, the parade and all the other events — but I’ve never been ecstatic about it. However, as a senior this year, I think I finally understand why Homecoming is so important: It’s a storytelling event where the main characters of the story — you and your college friends — get to reunite.
Homecoming is an opportunity for alumni to come together, once again, to share their post-graduation stories. They can tell their college friends about characters they’ve met since graduation, unexpected plot-twists in their lives, and new places they have experienced since college. Homecoming gives alumni the chance to reconnect with their college friends in person, which is much better than any phone call, text message or Facebook post.
As I observed all of the families tailgating and walking around on campus, I was a little envious. Part of me wants to be where they are right now. There’s got to be something grand about being settled securely into a place with a job and people you love after graduation. But I can’t wish my life away. I can’t skip over chapters and place myself in a new setting with a great job and great friends.
First, I need to finish the chapter of my life here. Between now and the Homecomings I will attend in the future, I know I’m going to have setbacks and failures, moments of anxiety and fear and jobs I don’t enjoy. But I have to experience those things to make my story a good one. If I return to a future Homecoming telling everyone how things went exactly as planned with no mishaps, no one is going to want to hear my story because it’s boring and unadventurous. Great stories need to have challenges, even a few that I may not overcome.
Although part of me wants to skip ahead to future chapters, I know I can’t. It’s best to stay right where I am, making my current story even better. This week, my friends threw a great birthday party for me, making me feel really loved and appreciated. In the middle of eating dinner with them, I realized that I don’t want to skip ahead to the future. I want to be at the College in the present moment with them.
Five or so years from now, at a future Homecoming, my friends and I will sit down together to eat, share our stories with each other and see how much we’ve grown from our experiences. But thankfully, we’ve still got a few months before we go our separate ways, and we can help each other live great senior year stories right now.