Glad grad, sad grad and back again

todayMarch 10, 2022 16

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Not many people go from being a freshman to a junior, but somehow I’ve managed. How? How do you possibly do that, Kellen? Well, it takes several things: a summer semester, a year off, a pandemic and some interesting calculations of transfer credits.


I spent my freshman year in the Big Apple at NYU. It was a year of many ups and downs, but by the end of the regular academic year I wanted more of it during the summer. This summer semester of course would be the reason I had to transfer, but I digress. Low on money and burdened with boxes, I shipped my life in the city back to my Nebraska hometown, which could be described as…rustic. In a way this was the beginning of my “sophomore year”.


I made the plan to get a job and take some online community college courses to not fall behind before I fully transferred. Life in my hometown was rather the same as I had left it, but the personal life I entered was more turbulent than the plane ride back to Nebraska.


I was faced with working in a bar/restaurant where I was routinely hit on by men in their 30s–I was 19. I was faced with the Jenga-like destruction and rebuild of my parents’ marriage. And most of all I was faced with my failure at chasing my dreams, a state I was placed in by many around me, but most decidedly so by myself.


Most people would have spouted positive reassurances and mantras at me if I ever said that aloud, my mother surely did. But how do you reason with someone who spent most of their life dreaming to fly, only to have their wings clipped. That’s the sensation you feel when something like this happens. It’s the feeling Icharus had when the wax melted and he plummeted from such a great height. What do you do when your world stops?


There’s no amount of self-help books, meditation yoga and positive sticky notes to dig you out of that hole. You have to do what I did. You cry to that Sarah McLachlan song from Toy Story 2, you laugh to that same Robin Williams special for the 258th time and you have to make the best of a really crappy situation. I wish I was lying about any of this, but I had to do what I had to do. =And once I did what I had to do, I came to UNL…during a pandemic.


To say transferring and starting school really turned my life around would be a lie. Was it as bad as before? No. Did it still stuck? Absolutely. I’m in my third semester both at UNL and as a junior. Many of my highschool classmates are graduating in May or even a semester early at the end of this month. I dated a guy for months who would purposely upset me because it was “fun”. I have had to deal with going to college in a PANDEMIC. Many things have not gone well for me.


And I’m sorry to say this is when I turn around and tell you like the absolute cheesy cliché I am, that many things also went well for me. I got to direct a news show. I managed a way so that I can graduate a semester earlier than I had planned. And I found someone who has been one of the greatest friends I could have ever asked for.


While not the hardest, the most difficult thing about all of this is realizing that this is life. In all its terrible brilliance, life is guaranteed to kick you in the metaphorical–possibly physical–shin, then give you 15 lollipops, then smack you upside the head. It is never going to be perfect and there will be times when there’s nothing you can do to fix things. But in the end the bad stuff–even this crappy pandemic–too shall pass.

Written by: Kaci Richter

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