Despite still having a month left of college, I have recently been filled with emotion as I have been doing a lot of lasts (and firsts): registering for my last classes, meeting with my counselor for the last time, picking up my cap and gown for the first (and last) time. It’s funny, too, because it’s more than simply the thought of leaving my friends, of finishing my education, of moving back to Northern California (so long, Skarl the Smog!). It’s more than the $50k paper I’m going to receive. Graduating from college is an end to the biggest chapter thus far in my short life, one in which I have shaped a sense of identity and purpose thanks to the incredible people I’ve encountered and the incredible experiences I’ve shared with them.
I chose to graduate a year early exactly one year ago during the spring quarter of my sophomore year. Sophomore year was hard both academically and personally (have you ever heard of the sophomore slump?), to the point that I was only able to motivate myself with the prospect of finishing in three years rather than four.
This is not to say that my decision since then hasn’t been tried and changed and changed back countless times over the past year. I’ve considered staying a student another year, taking a year off from work to spend time with my friends as they finish up their last year, and working in Los Angeles permanently. I’ve written enough many pro/con lists to fill up a notebook. A while back, one of my closest friends asked me which decision I would regret more: staying or leaving. I chose to leave, but I hate that term and the connotations that come with it. When you think about it, coming and going are really the same actions but from different perspectives. I’m going — I’m leaving the textbooks and lecture halls behind — but I can feel myself coming into myself as a (young) adult, and I’m so incredibly excited for the future.
The thought of graduating keeps creeping up on me, and it’s simultaneously thrilling and scary. It has reminded me just how fast life moves. Expect to see more graduation-related photos and maybe some tears in the near future :)
Thank you to the amazing Tina Nguyen for the grad photo!