June 16, 2017. The day of graduation for thousands of students and myself. Years of excellence, intelligence, stress, hard work, but most of all, perseverance were put into this; Perseverance in a sense where you took all night to study for that exam, you stayed strong when others failed, and you were not swayed by the peer pressure of bad influences. Those endless nights of studying, those nights of going out, those nights staying up just talking to friends; those collegiate nights are over (for now), and it has not hit me yet until this day.
Yesterday felt like it was my first day as a freshman. I walked on campus, a skinny 5”9 basketball fanatic, who did not know what he wanted to do with his life. The smell of “cum” trees glistened in the air, the sight of over 20,000 students attending this campus, and the opportunities that the school presented itself. Everyday, I would go play basketball for hours on end, go to dining hall and eat to get the Freshman 15, and stay up at night to be with my hall mates and fellow freshmen.
Those were the days of pleasure, no worries, and no focus at all. Second year was the same way, except my grades declined and was influenced by the peer pressure of going out when school was suppose to be first; I saw others going out and thought to myself that I should too because the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) was much stronger than the grade that I was going to get on that paper or exam.
I was wrong. The GPA haunted me and brought me down significantly, not only because of the bad influences but because of my mindset and willpower. It was weak, and coming out of college, I realize you can’t just strive to be a common person, but instead a unique, impactful individual who can truly make a difference in the school he attends. You need to stand out when others don’t, you need to network if you want that internship, you need to take risks when others only want security, and you need to strive for the best while others are complacent with what they have. If you strive only to be average, to be another name on the alumni page, to be just another person in this world, you will never progress.
That’s when junior and senior year hit, and I told myself I’d get my grades and life together. I met many individuals who had that impact on me and I saw them becoming successful, so I wanted to be successful too. My friends were getting positions with top companies, and that inspired me to do the same. They say that “your 5 closest friends reflect and influence how you are”, as we can see that nowadays with the people we hang out with and with what ambitions and dreams we set forth.
I give these examples because it is a reflection of how college is; you live, you learn, but most of all you persevere. You fall sometimes but you get back up. You learn from your mistakes, you strive from failures, and your closest friends pick you up when you feel like the end of the world is near. That is what college is about: getting an education, making a difference, being an impactful person, meeting new people, and building your network.
But this is just the beginning, the end of the beginning, and we have many years to go in the future after college to look forward to. Many people look back at college and say that college is the best 4 years of your life, and this statement could be true, but I hope the best years of our lives are ahead of us, and that we will get there because we prepared for it in college. All those internships we did, those interviews we prepared for, and those job offers we have received, have lead us to this moment of graduating.
It’s not a goodbye forever, it’s a see you later.