I say this every time I write one of these reviews, but time moves too fast. Just like that, and here we are. I have completed by third year of college. I only have one year left of this journey, and then, I will join the working world, identify as a real adult, and no longer have this college lifestyle. Truthfully, though, I’m ready.
I know every college reflection post is about all the growth I have experienced, and this one is not any different, but this year of college really put me in a forward mindset. I started off the fall beginning my internship recruitment process. I had to think about which companies I wanted to work at, the types of positions I wanted to hold, and, really, the future I want(ed) for myself. In the end, the recruitment process was draining and as tragedy hit me in the face, there were many moments when I didn’t think I would make it.
When three people you know pass away within three weeks, your perspective shifts. Mine did. I learned a lot from death. One of the things I realized from those moments was that I can’t sit and expect my life to be what I want it. For most of my college life, I have pushed my dreams to the back burner — because when I have enough time or enough money or enough energy I will do that thing. Today, I don’t. I truly marvel in the present. I buy myself that cup of coffee because it makes me happy. I grab that Tuesday night dinner with a friend because I want to. I choose to bake a whole chocolate cake on Friday because why not (even though I only live with one other person)? Life is transient, and I will live mine to the peaks I desire. I won’t apologize for that any longer.
The second part of the school year was cut short. I was living my life in Austin, and then spring break came — and, suddenly, it was over. I was sent back home, forced to complete my classes online without the opportunity to be around my peers, professors, and potential college opportunities.
To be honest, I have loved it. Being home burned at first. I was dissappointed that I didn’t get to say goodbye to friends or farwell to my favorite professors; however, after living at home for the past three months, I have found so much happiness. I didn’t realize how much I missed my parents. I have been away for so long, and being back has been the most refreshing experience. As my parents become older and as their lives become less attached to mine, I want to be able to join them for the small things — and so having the opportunity to break my Ramadan fast or simply go on a drive with them has been everything, Alhamdullilah.
Who have I become? I remember when I started college, I dreamed of moving to a big city, leaving behind my family, and living a life of luxury. I no longer hold material items on a pedestal. At the end of the day, the cars and houses and shoes and watches won’t matter — what will matter are the people you spent your life with. I’m not saying I’m not ambitious anymore. I totally am. I’m working at my dream company this summer. I just have realized that my priorities are no longer so shallow. I don’t want prestige or materialism; I want fulfillment and social impact. I want to be someone who contributed to the world positively, not someone who gained from it selfishly.
Other life lessons this semester of college has provided me with is the realization that people will not always like you. I am a people-pleaser. I want everyone to like me, love me. In the past, I did anything and everything for people, even if they held no value in my life. It was exhausting, and I’ve since learned that I don’t need to. I should only invest myself in meaningful relationships. Not everyone will like you — and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or that person is bad; it means you just aren’t compatible friends. It’s not personal — and that is still really hard for me to internalize. I’m slowly gaining thick skin — very slowly.
This year also made me experience something I never thought I would experience. Something I still can’t truly fathom. Thinking about this moment burns the inside of me in ways you can’t imagine. My close friend, Allison, only twenty-years-old passed away in February. I still remember how I found out. I was sitting in my university’s academic center studying. I received a call from my friend in tears, as she told me Allison was no longer in this world. I talked to Allison two days prior to her death. In that moment, I cried. I was absolutely devastated; I still am. I haven’t recovered — and, honestly, I don’t think I ever will. I attended her funeral, wrote a eulogy, and shared my memories with her family. It was one of the most painful moments of my college life. Sometimes I sit and look out the window. I think about her beautiful brown hair, her infectious humor, and her passion for vintage items. There weren’t many like her. She was a gift.
This college reflection appears pretty gloomy. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in quarantine for two months and I have all of these feelings, or perhaps this year of college was just sad. I had many moments of happiness. Truthfully. I found a career path that excites me. I invested time in friendships that make me smile. I finally watched the sunset with friends. I bought more coffee than you can imagine. I attended some of the most inspiring classes. I finished writing my thesis. I had conversations that made me excited for the future. I lived, I learned, I loved, I laughed — I left my third year transformed, Allhamdullilah.
Bitter burns heal into sweet skin. I’ve become stronger than I ever thought I would — and I am hopeful that this strength will provide me with the resilience to overcome any forms of adversity that I may encounter.
Without the struggles, the successes wouldn’t be as sweet — and so I am grateful for the good, the bad, the ugly, the mysterious, the cold, the cloudy, the sunny, the magical — I’m grateful for it all.
As I enter the summer, I am excited to explore the professional opportunities at my (now virtual) internship. Right now, the world feels so different. I stay at home all the time. I haven’t been able to sit in my favorite coffee shop (my favorite activity). I abandoned my Austin apartment. Through it all, however, I have realized that nothing in life is certain. The moments we believed to be normal or commonplace are in fact not. Each day is a gift, each minute is an opportunity, and each second is a choice. Leaving this year of college behind, I have decided that even though I don’t know how the year (or my life) will pan out I am going to live intentionally and thoughtfully. I will make each day my own and hold no regrets. That’s it.