When classes were over and most students went home, the seniors had a BBQ to celebrate graduation. Everyone was having a good time. Some students were squirting each other with water, and others played with glow sticks. I was enjoying some food while talking with some friends.
Over time, it became chilly outside. I turned to one of my friends and said, “I think I’m going up to my room to get my jacket.” She smiled and told me to go ahead. As much as her answer was fine, our interaction caused me to miss one of my best friends. Normally, when I needed to go to my room (or anywhere for that matter), my friend would hop up from her seat and insist that she accompany me. But at the time, she was on her way back to her home state, on the other side of the country. Suddenly, I felt the urge to cry. While everyone was having fun around me, I could not help but feel sad.
I went back to my room, grabbed my journal, and wept. It had finally hit me that my time as a college student was over. Most of my friends were back in their home states (or even their home countries) far away from me. There I sat, sobbing in my room, as the sun set and darkness filled the sky. I wrote whatever came to mind in my journal. I wrote down what I was honestly feeling, knowing that no one else would read it. I was raw with my emotions and how I expressed them. In between sentences, I would take breaks to cry. I would also take breaks to pray, giving my burden to God and trusting that this pain would not last forever. At the end, I felt much better.
Over the next few days, I put my emotions to the side again. My senior class went on a trip to Washington D. C. I couldn’t cry on a fun trip like that! Then the next day I saw some friends for the last time. I wanted to enjoy seeing them rather than talking about how much I would miss them. The day after that, I graduated. Between packing, cleaning, eating, driving, seeing family, and taking pictures, I had no time to process how I was feeling.
On graduation day, my friend gave me a piece of paper that helped me sort through my emotions. The paper had questions printed on it, such as “How are you feeling?” and “Why do you feel that way?” When I finally settled back into my house – after sitting in traffic and then driving around just to let off some steam – I looked at the note. Well, this looks great, I thought excitedly, let me fill this out. As I started to think about how I felt, all the emotions that I had stuffed finally welled up like a geyser inside of me. I ran for my journal and started writing again. I felt a random assortment of emotions. In one sentence, I was happy to be finished with school. In the second sentence, I was angry that I had sat in traffic. I was sad, excited, and scared all in one moment. While I was processing my feelings, it seemed like there was a deep burden in my chest, like a rock was weighing down my soul. As I cried, as I was honest with my emotions, as I gave my emotions and my confusion to God, the burden lifted.
Last blog post, I talked about the importance of enjoying the last moments of a season. However, it is also important to grieve what was lost. I write in my journal every chance I get, filling the pages with my thoughts and feelings. These emotions are normal, even if everyone else appears joyful and excited. Give yourself time to grieve. I know that you cannot turn off your emotions like a faucet. However, if you stuff your emotions, they will be more uncontrollable when you finally deal with them.
I encourage you to write down how you are feeling and why you think you feel that way. Write about how you honestly feel. If you do not like to write, find a person who could support you as you grieve. Do whatever you can to deal with your emotions in a healthy way. If you need to cry, make sure that you are comfortable as you do so. Cry with someone who could hug you or listen to you as you process your thoughts. Cry squeezing a pillow or curled up in your bed. Do not be surprised if you feel a mix of emotions, especially if you are used to stuffing your feelings.
When you leave a good season, let it go, but let out your emotions. Give up your emotions to God. By trusting him with your situation, you know that your tears are not shed in vain. Letting out your feelings with help you to move on into the next season.