Now that it’s been a while since graduation, I wanted to take a little while to reflect on my time at Saint Mary’s. I feel like my college years flew by. Honestly, when I graduated high school, everyone told me college goes by fast, but I had trouble really understanding what was meant by that until I was putting on my cap and gown, preparing to walk across the stage. So, here’s a big huge billboard to those of you entering college or not even halfway done yet: enjoy it, make the most of it, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s hard to summarize four years of experience in a single blog post, but I’m going to try. In many ways, my four years is just a blip in the grand scheme of my whole life, but I think the four years spent at Saint Mary’s were really defining in a lot of ways. For example, my entire career path changed as a result of an experience I had at Saint Mary’s, and that’s pretty defining. Anyway, here are some of the highlights from the last four years:
I think the biggest thing that occurred over the last four years is the confidence I gained in myself. Do I still have insecurities and things I want to improve? Absolutely, and I think I’d be missing the point of life if I felt like I am the best version of myself already. However, I can say that the person I’m ending college as versus who I was when I finished high school is very, very different. In high school, I never really felt like I fit in perfectly. I struggled a lot with having the ability to figure out who I was, and I was so driven I often cut myself off from a lot. In college, i feel like I really found who I was and wanted to be, and was more authentically myself. I grew a lot, and gained confidence in my personality, interests, style, and goals.
I have a few friends from high school that I actively keep in touch with, but a lot of friends are hit and miss. In college, my friend group changed a few times. Some friends I made freshman year ended up different than me, and we drifted apart (TOTALLY normal, everyone changes). Others I fell out of touch with even though I tried hard to keep that from happening. However, ending college I feel like I have so many friends that I will likely have for years and years. Sharing college together makes people bond, and you share things that you’ll likely bond over for a long time. So, I’m thankful for all the friendships I made in college, even ones that already ran their course.
I think college is the time to grow. My school is small, and a lot of people started relationships really early on. I think something I enjoyed about college is that I was single for most of it, and I was able to just spend time dating myself if you will, meaning I got to know myself. I got to challenge myself, and figure out who I was. I was challenged to think differently, broaden my scope, and really grow as a person. I personally feel people should try to grow everyday, by doing something small to step out of their comfort zone or challenge some aspect of their being. We can never stop growing!
I entered college thinking that I would be a publisher or literary agent or editor upon graduation. I ended college accepted and enrolled at a great law school with the intention of becoming an attorney. Some people may say I sold out, pursued a career that would make more money, whatever. But the thing is, my passion changed, and that’s completely okay. I found something better suited to who I am. Being an English major, I started realizing that I love reading, I love analyzing texts, and I love discussing books with friends, but graduate school in English wasn’t something I wanted to do, and I felt more passionate about a future in law.
Less Compromise / Less Overwhelm
I’ve kind of been one of those people that compromise a lot, and often will give and give and give. However, I think our 20s are our time to be selfish, and in my college years I got to a point where I refused to compromise my goals or wants for others. I put myself first, completely first, and did what I needed to do to accomplish the goals I set for myself. This didn’t include being a bad friend, or alienating myself, but it did mean that I set boundaries. I would give this much but not give too much. I would not sacrifice my happiness to nurse an unhealthy relationship. I set boundaries in which I connected with others while also improving myself. Boundaries are totally healthy, and I highly recommend setting them at all points in your life.
Learning to Say Yes
This my seem counter to what I just said about not compromising as much, but what I mean here is learning how to say yes to things outside of my comfort zone. In high school, I’d always say no and just blame it on my parents. My poor parents probably seemed incredibly overprotective. In college, I started saying yes. Someone asked me on a coffee date, a dinner, going to the city, etc. Before, I’d probably get nervous and back out. In college, I pushed myself to do more. Be more active with my friends. Situations where I easily would have said no before, I starting trying to say yes. This doesn’t mean I put myself in unsafe situations, but I was willing to be more social and active. This was most true senior year, when I said yes to going out, even when I knew I should probably spend another few hours studying. However, I have zero regrets.
When I entered Saint Mary’s, I was petrified of doing anything in front of an audience. Having to speak to a group? No way! But, after taking various leadership roles, public speaking became a regular part of my day, so I started to just get over the dear of public speaking. Now, I don’t get nearly as scared, and I’m happy to say my skills of being articulate on my feet improved. I do think, however, this will be something I improve on further in law school.
I worked hard all four years, but I can definitely say that I have so may memories I will cherish forever. So many things changed my life, and defined my character. I’m so thankful for Saint Mary’s, the campus in the hills that I hope to return to again soon. To say it’s emotional to say goodbye to a place you call home, that’s made you grow and allowed you to flourish, and that’s been the place you forged lifelong bonds with amazing people is an understatement. I will be forever thankful for the Saint Mary’s community, and that my college years are the best of my life.