To summarize college in approximately one microsoft word page single spaced is honestly asking to do the impossible; I’m pretty sure I could write a 300 page novel about the wonders of my time at San Diego State University. Alas, no one has time for that, so I will do my best.
I graduated from SDSU this past Sunday with a B.A. in Communication. As that day came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on the most life changing chapter of my life. College was hands down the best four years of my life. It’s a whirlwind of emotions that can sometimes be indescribable. One week you’ll feel happy, excited, ambitious, and courageous (this is most likely during syllabus week, fyi), and then the next you’ll feel stressed, anxious, angry, and helpless (this is most likely after syllabus week, fyi). College is a four year long emotional roller coaster, and though there are plenty of dips that will make your stomach turn, I cannot tell you how incredibly worth it is to go for the ride.
My experience was a little different compared to most people. I am from San Diego, so I opted to live at home during my college years so I can save some money. I also got into a relationship for the first two years of my undergraduate career, so I would define that time as “sheltered”. I was a very innocent 18/19 year old— honestly! I think I went to only one party my freshman year where I had my first alcoholic drink. I also quickly learned that I was incapable of drinking more than two beers before becoming drunk, unfortunately.
A majority of my freshman and sophomore year was spent in the library as I vigorously fought for my grades. When I wasn’t studying, I was either working, or spending time with my family and former boyfriend. I won’t get into too many details, but I will cut to the chase: DO NOT GET A BOYFRIEND IN COLLEGE. Unless you know he/she is the absolute one aka he/she has his/her shit together, shares common interests, is fun/loving/ambitious/supportive/kind-hearted/humorous/family-oriented/intelligent/every-other-good-word-in-the-dictionary, and excels in all the categories you want them to excel in, it’s not worth spending two years of your life in a mediocre relationship, especially during your prime years of college. Of course, this is a personal opinion, but this also comes from personal experience. I hate to say that I “wasted” two years of my life with my ex, but after being single for my last three semesters, it makes me wish I was single for all eight of them.
The thing is, there are no restraints when being single. You are free to flirt at parties, you can actually go to parties without feeling guilty, and you can divide your time the way you choose to– it’s not determined by another person. Being single in college allows you to embark on a journey of independence while learning more about yourself every single day; you aren’t defined by another individual. Had I known that this would have been the case, I would have opted out of the relationship a lot sooner than I did, but life is all about living and learning.
Despite being in a subpar relationship, I did my best to enjoy college under the circumstances. I thrived in school, made lifelong friendships, was inspired by my professors, and was continuously challenging myself to do and be better. I worked hard, but the first two years I played mediocre. It really wasn’t until my last year of college where I really played hard; and I loved it. My classes challenged me like I’ve never been challenged before, I took on four jobs, was newly single and even though the break up was rough during the spring, that following fall I felt like a new person. I worked hard, and finally played harder. Trip to Montana got cancelled? Cool, lets go to Hawaii instead. Trip to New York City after taking four midterms with an upcoming one after we’d get back? Why the hell not?
For the first time in my life, I was seeing the world with no restraints, and I felt the most free I had ever felt in my 21 years on this earth. Each trip, which I plan to document on this blog in good time, was one for the books. I traveled more in these past nine months as a 21 year old than I ever did in my life, and I was in love with it. In addition, I felt like I had the opportunity to attain my youth back— I went to parties with my girlfriends, flirted with boys (although most of them were dumb), went out to the bars, and danced till the early AM in Miami and Chicago. What truly showed me my capabilities was the fact that despite all of my travels, I still relentlessly dedicated myself to my education, making sure I found time to study (whether it be on a plane, at my local Starbucks, or in the library) and continuously exceeded my expectations when it came to my papers and exams. A lot of us are convinced we can’t do things we actually are very much capable of doing, and impress ourselves when the task is completed. A majority of the times I felt like giving up, but I always pushed through that second of doubt and persevered anyway.
College isn’t meant to be easy, nor does it mean to party every day or get drunk every night. College is all about moderation, so don’t take on 21 units if you’re convinced you won’t have a social life (although my money is on that you will). Do what you can, and while you shouldn’t be afraid to dream big, don’t take on more than you can handle. It’s okay to go to parties every weekend of the month, but make sure your priorities are set up to where you’ll be able to succeed. Every one has their own definition of success, and mine is ultimately finding happiness in everything I do. Even though all of my friends can tell you that at certain points I complained nonstop about school, I cherished it more than anybody will ever know. I love the way it stimulated my thoughts of academia, society, and the environment. I loved that it challenged me every single day, and I loved that I was able to learn from both my academic and personal mistakes and view them as lessons for the future.
College has shown me my strengths, my weaknesses, and my endless perseverance I never knew I had. It has shown me the world, and it has granted me my independence. It has proven to me the importance of education, and has gifted me the desire to keep learning. I’ve celebrated many A’s, and I’ve shed many tears over D’s. College has taught me that failure is inevitable, but it’s how you respond to this failure that will be the end result. Completing college in four years has been my biggest milestone yet, and I am genuinely proud of myself. I pushed through the hardest days, and I’ve rejoiced in the best days. I’ve created incredible friendships that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I’ve found peace and an immense amount of happiness with who I am and who I am becoming. And while I am sad to let this chapter go, I will take all of the lessons I’ve learned from my four years as an undergraduate, and carry them with me for all of my future endeavors.
After all, they say that the best is yet to come.