College is officially over. It’s weird to think about honestly. I remember just four years ago when I was applying to various colleges and thinking of all the possibilities that lay before me. I was thinking of how the four years would go and who I would end up being and who I would end up meeting. All of these thoughts filled my mind and left me completely in a daze at how the future would turn out to be.
There have been moments of doubt and insecurity and complete sadness. It hasn’t always been an uphill ride. There have been so many bumps in the road along the way to the finish line. I have stumbled both academically and personally but I made it. There were so many times where I questioned whether I was doing the whole “college life” the right way. Was I partying enough? Was I going out there and meeting people enough? Was I apart of enough clubs? Did I take advantage of New York City enough? Did I take enough interesting classes? And honestly, this is just an endless cycle. I didn’t take all the classes I wanted to, that would be an endless amount! I would’ve never graduated! I didn’t party enough because there were many moments where I simply didn’t want to. And to me, New York City will always be a city of endless adventure and there will always be something new to discover and somewhere new to explore within its confines.
The point is this: the experience is over and now that a chapter has officially ended, I can now have the perspective of post graduation. I now have the perspective of looking back on those four years and seeing how everything came together to mold me into who I am today. I didn’t go to an incredibly prestigious college. Yet, honestly, no matter how “prestigious” it was or what it ranks in the nation, I found my place there and there will always be pros and cons to everything. I have been fortunate to have experienced a good experience while attending. The fact that I sent a letter of thanks to one of my favorite professors for all he’s done for me, and then felt compelled to write more to my other professors, displays how I truly feel about the quality of my undergraduate classes. And what is college all about? Learning both in and out of the classroom. I’ve been fortunate to go away to college because that in and of itself was a huge learning experience. I have been INCREDIBLY fortunate to have traveled as much as I have and when you add wonderful memories with friends, tons of laughs, and great professors on top of all that, there is absolutely nothing to feel at a loss. At least for me, I’d like to count my blessings far more than complain about what went a bit sour. The woman who delivered our commencement speech said, “I do not think of the glass being half empty or being half full. For me, the glass is always overflowing with blessings.” I think I will take that statement to heart and let it reassure me that life will not only always be what you make of it, but it will always be something pertaining to your mentality. Are you going to look at all of the good things in your life and constantly be grateful or are you going to focus on the negatives? Or, what so many of us do, are you going to be grateful for the good yet simultaneously complain about what you do not like? One lesson I have recently learned is: You cannot be grateful and complain at the same time. Also, complaining about complaining is still complaining.
I may not know why I was meant to attend the school I did and not elsewhere or why I met the people I did, but damn it has been one hell of a ride and I believe I graduated a much more experienced, and thus wiser, person than when I entered. To me, I did all I wanted to even if it didn’t go the way I thought it all would. I’ve been immensely blessed to have had an overall positive experience. There will always be the “what ifs” and the “shoulda coulda woulda’s” but you’ll kill yourself with constantly thinking about those things.
I am unsure of what the future holds or where I will even be within the next year or two. I do know, however, that I have learned so many life lessons at college that will follow me for the rest of my life. A college education is never something to question because it is such a privilege. The good that I can take away from my experience, weighs so heavily it’s as if any of the bad erases itself.
In the past few weeks leading up to graduation, I was reading a lot about jobs and the post graduate lives of very successful individuals. I also read a lot of advice for what to expect post graduation as I so famously like to pick other people’s brains about subjects so I can add them to my own pot of wisdom. I came across the essay “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace which I HIGHLY recommend. This is his commencement speech to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. Although my own speaker had a lot to say it terms of God, competition, being grateful and being a success in life, his speech was just like his writings– filled with philosophy and wisdom. He speaks of having a liberal arts education and how many are criticized that a liberal arts education simply “teaches you to think.” What he says, however, is that although it teaches you to think, there is great power in knowing how and what to think. He goes on to give examples of the real world and the day to day exhaustion from simply living day to day. He says that you could choose to see the world as this tiresome, boring, repetitive place or you could choose to see the world as a place comprised of people who could have it way worse than you. Of course none of what I’m saying is exact or verbatim which is why I will post it below. Essentially what he says is that your mind rules everything and there’s a reason why the saying exists: “the mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master.”
One thing that really struck me about his speech was when he said something along the lines of: it’s no surprise that those who commit suicide with a firearm shoot themselves in the head. That is where the suffering resides. And how crazy is that?! Our mind is so powerful and when you think about it, of course that’s where most people would shoot themselves! Stop the negativity! Stop the stress, the thought processes, the agony. Where are all of those things experienced? Our minds! This is why it is of utter importance to control your mind and learn how to think. He basically says that you get to choose what is important! In a world where we are conditioned to believe so many things, YOU have the power to choose what is important to think about and what is not. You have the power to go against those default settings and create a beautiful life for yourself on your own terms and without any lessons from society. So choose wisely.
I do believe that I’ve learned a plethora of life lessons from my college years. However, the one that sticks out to me the most is just that– how powerful our minds are. It’s a scary thing but a thing that is of the utmost importance to conquer. How will you view life? What will you do with your education, which comically so, resides in your mind? Will you create your own path and choose to view the world your own unique and positive way or will you reset to default settings? The settings that society has conditioned you to believe.
It is all up to the individual. I am grateful for my college experience, no matter how bumpy and negative it was at times. I choose to look at the positives and at all of the lessons I’ve learned. I choose to see the world in only a way that my skull shaped world can see it. It is all unique to me and even for that I am grateful. In this new chapter I am about to embark on, I am grateful for the past and all of the lessons I have learned leading up to this new beginning. I am accomplished. I am blessed.
David Foster Wallace – This is Water