Taking Saint Mary’s with me
Jordan Cockrum | Friday, May 17, 2019
In August, I made a promise with my friends to enjoy each moment of our senior year. While it still felt far away, we knew the end was coming. We handled this realization by focusing on each day, one at a time.
Living in the moment, in this way, is a frequent coping mechanism of mine — pushing difficult emotions off until the very last minute possible. Sometimes, this was procrastinating on a difficult assignment until it was due the next morning. Other times, it was making decisions right before the deadline — I visited Indiana University, New York University and Saint Mary’s the week before Decision Day in 2015. This time, it is accepting that my time to leave my second home has come.
Tomorrow, I become an alumna of Saint Mary’s College. All year, I could tell myself I still had more nights out with friends, more stories to write for The Observer, more projects to finish and more time before everything had to change. But I cannot say that anymore. I have just one last night as an undergraduate.
This desire to avoid the time when I would be forced to move on from Saint Mary’s came from a feeling that my entire identity would have to change. I saw this transition from college to my future as a law student as having to leave Saint Mary’s behind, letting go of many of the aspects of my experience that made me who I am. How could anyone be ready to leave a place that meant so much to them?
Saint Mary’s often references the famous Sister Madeleva quote, “We promise you discovery: the discovery of yourselves, the discovery of the universe and your place in it.” For much of my time here, I felt frustrated with this. I did not feel I was discovering who I was or where I fit in. Despite having times where I felt it was impossible, I was able to find my place at Saint Mary’s and in the world. It is uncomfortable to think about having to find my place in a new environment with new people and new traditions.
But, upon reflection, I realized having to find my place again does not mean my identity will be changing. Graduating from Saint Mary’s does not mean I have to “move on” or “let go,” but adapt. My Saint Mary’s experience will always be with me — a piece of Saint Mary’s will accompany me even after I leave this campus and South Bend. It isn’t the physical place that defines what Saint Mary’s means to me, but the lessons learned and experiences shared.
Wherever I go, I will always have the strength I gained from learning to manage anxiety while in college. I will always be filled with the intellectual curiosity that brought me to Saint Mary’s and led me to law school. I will always cherish the memories I made in my four years on this campus. I will always be filled with a passion for telling stories, and I will always feel the most fulfilled when I am making an impact on others.
Graduating does not mean I am leaving Saint Mary’s behind, but rather taking it with me on the next steps of my journey.
Jordan Cockrum is graduating with a degree in communication studies and humanistic studies. In the fall, she will be moving to Bloomington, Indiana, to begin at Maurer School of Law. She can be contacted at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.