Senior Reflections: Saying goodbye to college is tough, facing the real world might be harder

By Michael O’Hearn, Social Media editor
A long, long time ago, I could still remember the way those Kansas sunrises used to make me smile.
I knew if I had my chance, then I could have left sooner than I actually did.
But December made me shiver, with every snow storm I encountered.
Good news on the doorstep, the loaded Penske truck ready to make its first steps.
I couldn’t remember if I cried, the day I left the west side.
But something touched me deep inside, the day the teenage me had died.
Now, as I approach my final few weeks of my college career, I sit here and write what will be my last Banner piece before becoming a full-time reporter on the flip-side of college.
I made it to the endgame of my schooling, for the time being, and I can see graduation on the horizon.
A small-town boy from Kansas just trying to make his way in the mountains of Asheville finally clinches the golden ticket, the diploma, but at what price?
For the last four years, I feel like I’ve been moving at the speed of light and never really had the time to slow down.
This was true when I did multiple theater shows in community college.
Long nights were spent toiling over the semester’s big production, rehearsing lines, painting the stage and building and destroying production sets after a well-received run thanks to the director Jennifer Treadway.
After leaving community college almost as fast as I entered the college stage, I had merely a few weeks to decide where I was off to next and, more importantly, what I was going to set my sights on as I finished my higher education.
This transition into becoming a mass communication student, after being told I still needed three credit hours at Blue Ridge Community in order to graduate, ended up being a split-second decision I landed upon days after my twentieth birthday.
I decided I would enslave myself to pen and paper, to being another recorder of history in the annals of time as a reporter at the end of summer 2013.
Coming here, I had high expectations. The first thing I wanted to do was to find my tribe of friends and live at college like Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World, friendly and smiling at everyone I came across.
I met someone who would eventually become the so-called “love of my life,” who I now refer to as the ex who slipped away, within the first few days of being at UNC Asheville.
I focused myself on my work within the department and decided sticking to my assignments throughout each class would be the way to go if I was going to survive college.
I rarely say I regret anything when it comes to living, but it is with college I feel I rushed it. I see the finish line ahead, but all I want to do is make a U-turn and walk back to the starting line to redo the event.
I had been told college it’s supposed to be the “most fun four years” of my life, but my nose-to-the-grindstone demeanor circumvented most of the fun I was supposed to have.
That isn’t to say I didn’t get anything out of going to college. I grew and I learned more about myself and what I can offer this world at UNCA through the classes I tackled.
Mass communication law taught me I’m not destined to be a lawyer like I wanted to be as a child. Early cinema taught me my love of film does know some bounds. Even video production taught me not to rush a thought-provoking and intimidating class through four weeks in the heat of summer.
I don’t want to end these last four years on a depressing and less-than-stellar note. I graduate college in three weeks, and that’s a staggering achievement in itself, plus I’ll have a guaranteed job the Monday after I walk the stage in Kimmel Arena.
If that’s not stellar, I don’t know how else to define the adjective then. The moral of my final story this semester, and my college experience, is don’t rush anything. Embrace the time, the people and the experiences you have in college.
Sure, not every class taken will be cotton candy and rainbows and yes, there will be periods of time where it will be almost not worth it, but believe me, these are the best years of our lives.
There is nothing better than a college education in this day and age. I sound like I’m destined for the retirement home at this point (ironic because presently I work at one) but I feel like I’m prepared for the challenges of the world on the other side of the door.
I feel like I’ve done the absolute best I could while at college. There are a lot of things I would change, yes, but I don’t regret my last-minute decision in the summer of ’13 in transitioning to UNCA.
Go Bulldogs, and I will see you all again soon.