Welcome to Columbia State University. This is the one time where we pretend to have school spirit and care about our football team. Homecoming is supposed to be the intensity found over the course of a season in other schools, all packed into one day. Sort of.
On top of that, senior year is supposed to be the highest of the high. It’s your last shot of enjoying the festivities as a student, and I was determined to make the most of it.
At around 9:30 a.m., I began my day with some friends. We gathered together with our hopes and spirits high for the upcoming day. Some were rookies, having never been to a Columbia sporting event. Others (OK, only me) had a slight obsession with the Light Blue. Amid Jell-O shots, music, and a bagel, I was overcome with excitement at the idea of being a part of a full, cheering crowd. Finally, people care about our football team! (Or, at least, pretend to.)
Spirits were still high aboard the fan bus to Baker Field. We began singing “Roar, Lion, Roar” loudly (and drunkenly). I’m sure that our fellow passengers were quite appreciative of our euphoria. Once at the stadium, seniors are almost literally showered in beer. Four beers? Could I even count that high at that point in time? Nope. Probably not.
As students poured into the stands to cheer on the Light Blue, and as Columbia even took a temporary lead, I knew that the day was everything I wanted it to be.
But something still felt empty.
Initially, I intended to end this column talking about how the game itself was pretty boring and was, overall, bad football. But that wasn’t the entire explanation. There was something bigger that was bugging me.
I think it began to truly hit me that I’m a senior. And there’s something incredibly scary about this being my last year on campus that I can’t put words to. Who knows where I’ll be in a year? I’d love to say that I’ll be back at Baker Field with friends next Homecoming as an alum with a sad obsession for Columbia sports, but who’s to say I’ll be able to find a job in New York? And who among my friends will even be here?
Over the past three years, my interest in Columbia athletics has been a constant. Ever since I joined the Spectator sports section, I have bled Light Blue. But it’s frightening to think how much else has changed and how much will change five years from now. Homecoming acted as a constant to show me how different I am from the 18-year-old who was awestruck at her first-ever Columbia football game.
Three years ago, I would have told you I’d be at senior year Homecoming with my first-year roommate, who was one of my best friends. But we didn’t go to Homecoming together this weekend because she left Barnard last year. I really miss her, and her absence is a sign of how things you can expect to be a constant can change effortlessly and quickly.
The thought of graduating is frightening. And the thought of what was to come couldn’t leave me throughout this Homecoming game. It was the beginning of major final milestones for seniors. Even though the Homecoming game was the first sporting event for many in the class of 2014, we only have a few months left together. And then we leave.
We all have high expectations about how our last year should go, what our first job should be like, and who we will stay in touch with. But expectations are rarely fulfilled in the way you imagine them.
I know it hurts to think this way and to not simply enjoy senior year while it’s happening. But it’s hard not to get philosophical about what’s going to happen next. For those seniors not applying to graduate school, this is perhaps the first time in our lives when we don’t have a set timeline for what comes next. These thoughts, my fears—they’re totally acceptable, as long as I don’t let them define—and detract from—my life.
So here’s to taking it one game, one step, one milestone at a time. Here’s to not letting a fun Homecoming game become yet another platform for worries about my future. From now on, I’ll just take it one game at a time.
Rebeka Cohan is a Barnard College senior majoring in history. She is the staff development director and a former sports editor for Spectator. And One runs biweekly.