By the time this post gets published, I will have graduated from college with a degree in Public Relations. Boston has been my home for the past four years and now will be a milestone in my memories. There is a lot that people will tell you about college; that it will be the best four years of your life, that you will make life long friends, and that this will be the time to experiment and get to know yourself. Well, not quite. I’m sure this can be true for many of my peers, but this could not be all the more different for myself.
I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned from my story. One that perhaps did not actually follow the criteria of the standard “college experience” but then again, who would want that anyway? I’m here to tell you that college has been a time where I have further gotten to know myself and developed the seeds that have sprouted all throughout my life. I’m here to assure you that all four years of college will NOT be picture perfect, that you will have days where you will not want to leave your bed and nights where you can’t imagine being anyplace else. I’m here to warn you that contrary to popular belief, you will fail and that in of itself is something to learn and grow from. I’m here to tell you as my best friend reminded me that “mejor solo que mal acompañado” or better to be alone than in bad company.
Not many people tend to tell you that a lot can change in four years, especially yourself. If you’re walking out of college as the same individual, you walked in, I urge you to try and understand why that is. I used to be petrified of change, it actually threw me off balance. But the fact of the matter is that the only consistency we have is in knowing that life has many changes in store for us. The daunting question I found myself asking was well if things change, how can I be sure I’m adapting myself in the right way. They key here is that to adjust, you must grow into the person you need to be, the person who rises to the circumstances handed to them and then some. Now before you write me off as all talk, I know I sound predictable.
You may think “just be yourself and follow your heart and you will succeed” would be the next words to come out of my mouth but hate to break it to you, your heart sometimes sucks. At least for me, my heart has led me astray and fooled me into thinking some absurd things. What people should be telling you, as I am about to, is that you need to follow your values so that every decision you make builds a step toward your bigger picture. What I’m NOT telling you is to diminish who you are as a person, on the contrary, embrace it! I finally become at peace with all the parts of myself throughout these years and through that self-acceptance was I then able to work and improve the parts of me I wanted to see in a different light.
I ask that you be empathetic with yourself, know that what you are feeling is valid and you’re not wrong to feel it. Know that there is the world outside of college, and it is beautiful and filled with a blank canvas that only you have the paint to fill. If you are reading this and you are graduating, congrats— you made it this far. Your story is just as valid and raw as mine. I’m sure you’ve had your ups and downs, but hey, you’re doing it, this thing called life.
If you’re still in college, I ask you one last thing: promise me, that no matter what, you will keep going. A dear friend turned colleague, and now mentor taught me this by writing the sentence “I promise to keep going” on a post-it note and told me to put it somewhere I would see it every morning. The note would remind me that whatever I was struggling with was all apart of the bigger picture, one that did not define itself in the constructs of a college degree.
Lastly, I’m going to urge you all to follow this exercise below that was given to me by my friend mentioned above. I know it may seem weird, but let it actually reflect within yourself.
Now all of you, take a minute and step back, take a deep breath, think of all the hard work you’ve done this year/college. All the times you were frustrated with yourself and your peers. Think about all the effort you’ve put into your life and now think about where you are… think about all the most successful things you did this year/college, the things that make you proud. Have you achieved what you set out to do? Have you lived up to the dreams you dared not too long ago? Think for a minute, what more you would like to do, where you would like to come this time next year. What’s your next step?