A fun fact about me is that I spent my middle school and high school summers at musical theater camp. I wasn’t very good—directors and teachers and my mom liked to tell me that I had “a really great stage presence!” which means that I could fake it pretty well, even though my voice was closer to the bottom end of average.

My tenure as a thespian left me with a dusty box of stage makeup, a rather awful pirouette and an only-slightly-secret love for musicals. My favorite parts of musicals are their finales. I like the way that they’re joyous, even when they’re sad. Finales feel like endings—solid, with-a-bang, close-up-the-story endings. I like endings. I read the last five pages of a book when I’m only halfway through. I like end-of-the-year banquets. I liked the view out the back of the car driving up the road on the way home from camp. Endings are romantic and solid, simple and comforting.

It’s May of senior year, and I’ve been thinking about endings a lot. I picture the way the Quad will look at graduation, my cap and gown and white dress on the museum steps. I’ve thought about the places that I will want to go on campus and the things that I will want to say to people before I drive across the bridge out of Maine. I want those moments to feel a certain way. Take a bow, curtain falls, resolution.

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about what the end of Bowdoin will be like. It will be frenetic, he said. You graduate, and then you’re torn between parents and friends on the Quad, and you can’t find all the people you want to see, and there’s lunch and dinner and last-minute packing, and then you just sort of leave. Bowdoin fades off—an ellipsis, not an exclamation point.

That’s weird and scary. Four years of snow and exams and College House parties and housing lotteries should not just fizzle out and fade to gray; they must deserve more. But to deserve a romantic ending, Bowdoin would need to be finished. The plotlines would be tied up and the questions would be answered and the reprise would be swelling in the background. And that’s not the case.

It’s easy to forget in the midst of the nostalgia induced by impending graduation, but I was really unhappy for my first two years here. It wasn’t Bowdoin, not really—my unhappiness was temporal, not spatial. But panic attacks in the back row of chemistry aren’t fun, regardless of why they happened.

I took my first antidepressant in the back corner of Smith Union in April of my sophomore year. It was one of the scarier things I’ve ever done—suddenly, the messed up stuff in my brain materialized as a real thing that I couldn’t get rid of on my own. Meds were not going to fix me, but they could clear the fog enough to pinpoint what I needed to wrestle with. It’s been two years of that. I was going to stop my prescription this month. I was going to be done by the time I got my diploma. But I’m not ready, not yet. I’m not quite done.

Here are other things I left undone after four years: I never quite got back in shape after a knee injury; I didn’t master statistics. I’ve told a lot of stories in the Orient, but I didn’t tell them all, and I didn’t tell some as well as I should have. There are a few first drafts of essays on my computer that needed second drafts. There are people I should yell at; there are people I should thank. 

There are a few weeks left until graduation, and there’s no way that I’m going to tie up all of those loose ends. I can see them flapping behind me, a strange checklist of consequences and failures and unanswered emails. They feel comfortable, though, like old friends. That’s what I’ve learned best in four years—to let things go unfinished. 

Here is what Bowdoin has taught me: I can be happy without being okay, and I can be proud of something without it being perfect. Maybe it wasn’t Bowdoin that taught me those things; maybe it was just four years away and four years of getting older. Regardless, those are the lessons I’m leaving with, and I think they’re the ones I needed. Even without a final trumpet blast, I feel good about walking away. 

Nicole Wetsman is a member of the Class of 2016.