I’ve left two schools in the past six months. One was a typical, happy, graduation kind of leave. The other was a non-typical, special-circumstances kind of leave. There are some things that only happen with the first kind and some things that only happen with the second, and there are a few that happen with both.
1. You wonder what comes next.
You’ve been released into the world with nothing tying you down and nothing to guide you. It’s like being in a free fall. Exhilarating. Terrifying. In a desperate bid to get your feet onto solid ground, you might look into sticking to what is familiar, aka: more school. Or you might try to rush into the next step, aka: get a job. Or you might enjoy the fall for a little while while you make up your mind about where to land. But you fall no matter what, even if it’s just for a little bit.
2. Everything becomes stories.
When it’s over, it’s over. You will never relive those experiences again and being away from familiar situations will make them feel less real over time. They become memories instead of possibilities. Stories become legends. Truth becomes myth. What was once your life is now your past. It’s weird. You might never get used to it.
3. You get lonely.
Maybe you made another home for yourself. After leaving, it’s possible you’ll experience a backwards kind of homesickness. You’ve been taken out of a familiar environment. You’re suddenly on a different path from your friends and teachers and it’s not as easy to connect as you once did. You no longer see those people who have the same interests as you everyday. You’re on your own. You have to adapt.
The world is your oyster, as they say. You did it. You’re free. No more institutionalized thinking or standardized testing. No more studying the parts you hate most. You can focus on what you love, study what you’re most interested in, and learn things for yourself, not just for an exam. You are the priority, not your grades. And it feels great.
Of course, everyone’s experience of school and leaving it will be different. I only know what I have experienced. I love learning and post-secondary education provided me with support from peers and guidance from professionals in subjects I wanted to study. But while I’ll miss school and cherish the memories I made, I’m glad to have finished.