salaam! hi! hello! today i’m sitting here writing my LAST college re-cap post – because, well, i’m a college graduate. i still can’t really comprehend that. they say college flies by – and wow, it truly does. i’m now more “knowledgeable.” but sometimes i think about my education and wonder did it actually make me more knowledgeable or is it a mere stamp on my name showing the world that i’m an individual who has obtained higher education? in reality, does college actually mean anything other than credibility to employers that i’m able to pass a series of (often arbitrary) classes? i don’t think college is the only path to success and i don’t think college = intelligence. intelligence isn’t a benchmark that can be measured in the amount of degrees someone holds. mostly because college is circumstantial. it’s a luxury. a privilege. not everyone can afford the cost of college, and so to say college is a requirement for success or intelligence is ignorant and callous. i’m grateful for this opportunity, alhamdullilah. i recognize my ability to attend college has been a privilege, and i know without my parents unwavering support i wouldn’t have received this experience.
here i am now. i have a bachelor’s of arts in international relations and a bachelor’s of business administration in supply chain management. it’s weird to say that. for so long my life has followed this very linear path of – wake up, go to class, complete homework, and do it all over again. that was my life for the last 21 years, but soon i won’t have that. every year will come with something new and nothing i can predict. beyond just not having the familiarity of school in my life, i’ll be entering a phase of adulthood – learning how to invest my money meaningfully, attempting to stay in touch with friends and make new ones, searching for a new community now that my college bubble has spread to other spaces.
life really won’t be the same. it sounds dramatic, yes. but it’s true. my life really won’t ever be the same. my best friends are starting medical school, moving to new cities, beginning adult jobs, and everything in between. i’m so proud of all of them.
i’m not really sure what to make of this post. i’ve been writing about every semester of college since 2017 and now here i am 4 years later. 4 years later i’m stronger. i’m more openminded. i’m happier. i’m more excited. i’m more hopeful. when i started college in 2017, i had a toxic relationship with myself. i made everything about productivity. i was obsessed with being in a constant state of movement. i didn’t take time for myself because i thought it was a waste to give myself moments of rest. i thought if i did not spend every second doing something to support my future, i would fail. now i realize that rest is required, it’s not a reward. now i know that i need to honor my feelings, practice self-love, and value myself. now i know that people will always be around me, but my journey is different than everyone else’s journey – and so comparing myself to someone else isn’t fair because the context of my life is so different.
one of the biggest things college taught me was empathy. empathy – the ability to look at the bigger picture and try to understand someone’s story. i came to college with a very narrow mind. i thought what was in front of me was all that was real, but i’ve since learned that everything is multidimensional. if someone is upset or angry and makes a decision that impacts you, it’s not always really about you – their negativity towards you can come from a place of internal stress and other obstacles that person is experiencing. a lens of empathy helps enhance emotional awareness and allows you to cultivate strong relationships. however, within this discussion of empathy, i think it’s also important to understand the balance of being understanding and experiencing emotional abuse. though being empathetic is so important, there’s also a limit to how understanding someone should be. sometimes we can be incredibly understanding towards someone’s situations, but if the person you’re being empathetic towards continues to show signs of anger, it’s maybe best to take a step back. letting go and moving on from people who we care for is hard, but we can only do so much. in the end, i firmly believe that people who want to be helped will accept help, not push it away. i’ve had to remind myself so many times that you can’t really help those who don’t want it.
college also taught me to be comfortable with myself. the self-confidence i’ve gained from these 4 years is unbelievable. i started college as a 17-year-old with so much self-doubt. i didn’t think i was smart, strong, pretty, or worthy. i really disliked myself. i thought i was odd and weird. and now, i do admit – i am very odd and weird. but who isn’t? everyone possesses unique quirks that makes them who they are. i gained self-love that has made my smile brighter. i’ve fully accepted myself, my personality, my strengths, my weaknesses – me! i’m not perfect. no one is. and perfection is not what i seek anyway. i seek contentment, internal peace, and joy.
college connected me with the best people i’ve ever met. the friends i made have contributed to some of my best memories, and despite this pandemic, they have continued to add to my life from miles away. college also connected me with professors who have inspired me and stirred my intellectual curiosity. i have dived into a world of immense knowledge – learning how to speak norweigan (i still can’t believe i decided to learn this foreign language (men jeg liker å laere norsk fordi det er morsomt –> but i like to learn norwegian because it’s fun), studying abroad, taking classes on political theory, art history, economic development, supply chain management, border history, etc.
so yes… i’ve learned a lot. on my last day of class one of my professors told me “hira, you’re an idealist.” and at first, i wasn’t sure what to make out of that comment. but, he was right – i’m very idealistic. it’s one of the most overwhelming parts of my identity. when deciding something or understanding a new idea, the natural rhythm of my mind is to sway to something idealistic – and then, i have to intentionally wrap myself back and address realistic dimensions. but why? why is it idealistic for me to dream of a world where every child is given the opportunity to learn and obtain an education? why is it idealistic for me to dream of a world where corporations don’t make decisions based solely only cost and profit but also the environment, human development, and social good? why is it idealistic for me to dream of a world where a people don’t use violence to settle their differences? why does my worldview have to be seen as idealism and not a goal for all of us? when my professor pointed out my idealism i interpreted it as a critique on my personality, but as i’ve reflected – i’ve realized that i’m fine with being known as an idealistic and optimistic person. my idealism allows me to find hope that in this twisted, weird, and wild world – there is immense possibility to contribute to good. my idealism encourages me to find good, do good, and be good – and though i fail at times, i am constantly learning, growing, and transforming.
so goodbye, college. you taught me a lot, but the learning isn’t over.