So it’s been exactly 2 weeks and 6 days since I’ve graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. And it’s finally starting to hit me.
Since then I’ve moved back home (ugh) and have started taking classes at my local community college (another ugh), in the hometown I have lived in all my life before uni. It’s safe to say that a lot of things haven’t changed. My living room still has the same brown, leather couch with striped photo albums tucked under the coffee table. My next-door neighbor still drives a blue van and never hands out candy during Halloween. My room is still a gross shade of pink; my sister’s drawings stuck to the walls. So it’s easy to forget that I even went to uni these years and for the most part I feel utterly the same. And yet, I feel different, like a tiny seismic plate within me has shifted ever so slightly to the right. Or as Steinbeck more eloquently says, “like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn”. I’m a little more talkative, I’m definitely more confrontational but most of all, I feel like the world around me has gotten just a little bigger. And now that I’m out, it doesn’t feel like I’ve done a lot but I guess I’m writing so I can get some closure on this chapter in my life.
*cue the cheesy montage music*
Funnily enough, I never thought I would actually like my college experience. I stepped onto my uni campus for the first time and thought it was ugly. Now it’s just endearing.
Flashback to my first year, moving in to my new dorm and my new roommates, a blur of new friends navigating this new world called college and complaining about dining hall food, except on pancake days. A blur of midnight movie premieres and hanging out at a friend’s dorm till 3 in the morning. Eating cinnamon toast crunch after going to a party because you get hungry after you drink (obviously).
I learned that I don’t always have to sleep at 12 and that good friends make even the very worst things bearable. Also, lollicup does not actually have the best boba.
Fast forward to my second year, a blur of the most tedious and insufferable physics and organic chemistry labs. My first apartment. Of riding the bus every 2 days. Bigs and Littles. Late afternoons in the psychology research lab. Tequila tastes gross but Fireball doesn’t. I learned how to cook. I also learned that I don’t know how to cook. Old friendships apart. With the overwhelming schoolwork, I felt like I was doing worse than everyone else, so I learned that I can actually be a pretty bitter person, a side of me I never thought existed.
I learned that I should stop thinking that the world owes me something and control what I can do.
Where has time gone? Fast forward to my 3rd year, and a whir of new adventures. New roommates, new classes. It takes me at least 14 minutes to walk from the apartment to campus. My roommate loves crafting and guacamole. My other one can talk 200 words a second. Anxiety over careers, doubts and tears galore. I had a fight with a friend and our friendship broke. A personal family tragedy leaves me unmotivated and regretful.
I learned that there is not only one path that I should follow to be happy.
And then of course, fourth year, makeup brands, trips to LA, banquets, concerts, and last-minute parties, cramming everything in because now it feels like I don’t have enough time because my freedom here has been taken for granted. I don my black gown, adjusting my cap and tassel that refuses to stay on my hea; I pass flurry of friends and family and cameras, and finally know how celebrities feel as I walked up the stage to shake hands with the chancellor. The turning of the tassel as 4 years of work turns into a diploma.
I learned that life doesn’t stop for anyone and that goodbyes are actually really, really hard to say.
I think I cherish these times most because perhaps the most important thing I have learned is to love myself in the sense that believing that my opinions matter. As totally cliche and family movie message as that is. It’s true. And it might seem like a small thing and to some people it is. But to me, it’s huge. It’s obviously not set in stone. There are days when I struggle with this more than others but I always remind myself that I have a right to be here and embrace who I am.
But hopefully, as I move on now to an uncertainty and even in times of frustration, I hope I remember that the world is a lot bigger than I once thought it was. There is so much left to do, so much to explore, so much to read and I want to be here to seize those chances. Somewhere in between these years, I found a little part of myself. Whether it just emerged or whether it has always been there is anyone’s guess.
All pictures are my own*