By Danae Reid
The first official homecoming celebration is said to have taken place in the early 1900s, but its origin is still highly contested. The long-standing tradition gained popularity quickly at colleges and universities across the country, and has been a collegiate staple ever since.
Every year, millions of alumni look forward to returning to their alma mater for an experience that they’ll never forget — and although the history of homecoming has direct ties to football, the day is about much more than the pigskin. The tradition gives graduates the opportunity to celebrate achievements, reconnect with old friends, support current students, and create new memories while recounting the old.
This year marked my second homecoming as an alumna and I reveled in excitement at the thought of returning back to West Chester University for a spell. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the petite parking lot behind the student union, which was filled to capacity, of course, the same mulch that held purple and yellow tulips every spring, and my old corridor, which strangely enough, hadn’t aged externally. For a moment, I appreciated the sameness, but that sentiment was quickly halted by feelings of displacement.
I hadn’t thought about how much my life had changed in relation to college until that moment, but it was true. I was a completely different person now, and the place that I’d once called home, found me a stranger. As my mind became inundated with thoughts about who I was when I first started school, who I was now, and who I’d become, I began to experience an existential crisis.
Homecoming 2018 and Homecoming 2019 were shaping up to be two completely different experiences. In 2018, I was fresh and my main focus was imbibing with my line sisters and friends.
But this year proved to be worth much more than a finished bottle of vino. A cornucopia of anxiety, excitement, and humility filled me as I looked at my fellow Golden Rams, both young and old. Had anyone else felt this way, or was I thinking too much?
I decided that both things were likely true and shifted my focus to being fully present and enjoying a “carefree” afternoon. I was, after all, in a crazy transitional period from young adult to adult and I owed myself that much.
The day went as it came. In the end, I couldn’t help but think about how thankful I was for growth, for friendship, and for the woman that West Chester had made me. The older you get, the more you long for the past, when things were “easier,” but what my experience reinforced for me was that living in the moment is as important as the reflection that comes with remembering the past.