The end of college proposes more than just a diploma

I was in class the other day, watching three of my friends compare the diamond solitaires gracing the ring finger of their left hands, and it occurred to me that the more advanced my classes get, the more they begin to resemble home-EC in high school. To what do we attribute this race to the altar? For these girls, as for many, true love is the reason, but why now, and not a year ago or a couple of years from now?
As we prepare to ride off into the fog we call our future, guided only by parents who want us to come back (or move further away, in some cases), and our own ridiculously naive ideals of corner offices in New York City and dating real professionals with corner offices in New York City, isn’t it only natural to undergo some kind of emotional confusion? Who’s worth keeping around as we embark on this next phase of our lives?
I often reminisce about all the great times I had in high school with what’s-her-name; and how in love I was with that guy; and I realize that I’ve only stayed in touch with one person. I think you only realize who your true friends are when they’re not around anymore. Who’s really worth your anytime minutes? And who will have a minute for you, anytime?
For some, the conflict between to “do” or not to “do” leads in the opposite direction. Many will go their separate ways after graduation-and the relationship that seemed like “the one” for about five minutes, will morph into “my college boyfriend/girlfriend;” transforming from the most important proper noun in their lives to just another pronoun in a dictionary of forgotten memories. Some will go to the opposite extreme-those fortunate enough to have found “the one” will have the privilege of exploring the uncharted territory of life-after-college with their own personal copilot who’s not going to bail when turbulence abounds.
I know that those girls have found something some of us will spend our lives looking for, only to realize it’s buried somewhere in the stacks of Richter Library, but my question is-why does it have to be one or the other? So much else is changing, why do we feel the need to uproot or rearrange the one thing that could keep us grounded? And in this frenzy of caps and gowns, finals and resumes, relocation and independence, how are we to know what we even want anymore, anyway? Well … we’ll always have Pearson/Mahoney.

Whitney W. Friedrich can be contacted at