For years, I joked that I could fit Georgetown University into two suitcases and a carry-on. There’s been some truth to that.
On a rainy August afternoon in 2019, my dad and I brought my clothing, books and supplies up to the second floor of Harbin Hall in two large duffel bags. In March 2020, amid worries of the COVID-19 pandemic, I crammed everything I could into two suitcases and rushed back to Florida, leaving just a handful of things in my dorm room. It wasn’t until May 2021 that I returned to campus as a community assistant for the Summer Hilltop Immersion Program with those same two suitcases and my trusty silver carry-on. The same held true for my Washington, D.C. move in as a junior in August 2021.
As graduation fades into memory and I start building my post-Georgetown life, I have been sorting through the last four years, processing the personal upheavals and spiritual transformations that I’ve experienced. Life here no longer fits so neatly into two suitcases.
In many ways, my four years at Georgetown were a pilgrimage. They forced me to reflect, adjust and reframe my perspective and to commit to becoming a better version of myself. Although I’m still figuring out where everything fits, the end of my Georgetown pilgrimage does bring some strange semblance of clarity.
In any relocation or transition, there is only so much that can be packed into hand luggage, sent ahead to the new destination or stored for safekeeping. Some things must be left behind; pilgrims must travel light as they push forward.
Part of that process has involved forgiving myself and others and letting go of those painful experiences that have weighed me down.
I love Georgetown, but I have often not said that with ease. Georgetown had a knack for breaking my heart, especially in those moments where I struggled to find my way. The last four years were full of mistakes that I immediately regretted. I fell in love with people too quickly and took forever to fall out of love with them. I stayed up late on too many nights upset over some bout of club leadership drama. I cooked less than I should have. I worked out less than I should have. I spent more money on coffee than I should have. Dissatisfaction with the current state of my world was a regular companion and pain of mine at Georgetown.
But the damage to my heart was never irreparable. Georgetown always had a way of lifting me up when I stumbled and helping me make the necessary fixes to my wounds. There was something about the smell of the jasmine and blossoms by Darnall Hall and Henle Village in the spring, the feeling of the breeze and the grass as I sat on Copley Lawn in the summer gazing at the pink sunsets, the fall rain on my skin as I walked in front of Healy Hall and the occasional dustings of snow on the roof of Dahlgren Chapel in the winter that served as a spiritual antiseptic. The mundane majesty of these moments left me breathless, revitalizing me when I needed it most.
The repairs always left me stronger and renewed. I found the friends of a lifetime at Georgetown, as well as countless mentors that have inspired me, guided me and encouraged me as I’ve grown in my professional life. In the classroom, my understanding of people, politics and power has been transformed beyond my wildest imaginations. My faith has become a foundational part of my identity, as I have discovered more intimately who I am and who I am called to be. Journalism has come into focus as my vocation; it is my way of serving God and making this world a better place. I marvel at how the pieces all somehow come together.
These consolations cannot come along in the next chapter. I know that for sure. “We are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be,” the late Joan Didion once wrote. The same must be said about the places that we held dear and the memories that we cherished. Clinging to the treasures that tethered me here will only hold me back as I try to move forward.
There is so much more to say about these four years, but I promised I would finally respect the word limit on a piece that I pitched to The Hoya. There’s plenty of room in the suitcases, boxes, journals and computer files that I’ve filled over the years for thoughts left unsaid and unpublished.
A new beginning approaches. New consolations await. Georgetown, I love you.