Approaching graduation causes long hours of contemplation on years past

One more quarter. That’s what I keep telling myself as I huddle in the corner of my room in a fetal position. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but this is true enough: The pressure is building, and boy, can I feel it weighing me down. For me, and hundreds of others who will be graduating in June, this is a culmination of four years’ worth (some longer) of blood, sweat and tears. I am starting to feel the expectations of family, friends and even myself.

My parents expect me to find a good job after graduating. Friends from back home, most of whom are still in city colleges or attending state colleges, expect the same: that I succeed, that I make loads of cash. Needless to say, I expect the same of myself, or at least the “”finding a good job”” part. This is, after all, the ultimate reason we are forking out $15,000 a year to attend UCSD.

Graduating. I never thought I would be saying — well, typing — that word in this regard. Not to sound macho or anything, but there are few things that freak me out; truthfully, this is one of the few things that does. I’m placed in a situation that I’m sure most graduating seniors are in: limbo. We’re caught between the memories of the past and the possibilities of the future at the same time.

I’ve had some great memories of college and a few bad ones. So what, then, is there for me to fear now that I’m nearing the end of another chapter in my life? Allow me to explain.

Lately, I’ve been pondering this question: Have I been successful in my tour of duty here at UCSD? Success can be measured in different ways, particularly in a university environment. Getting A’s in every single class is certainly successful (no, I’m am definitely not talking about myself). Attending every frat or sorority party is pretty impressive too (not me), as is hooking up with an Alpha Zeta Phi girl (I wish it were me). So is being editor of the opinon section.

In my opinion, having a successful college career involves attaining experience. A question we should all ask ourselves from time to time is: “”Have I experienced enough?”” This is a question that I ask myself, as it leads to the answer to the first question regarding success.

Experience, as the wise man would confess, comes with age. Experience comes from exposure; it comes from how willing a person is to set himself up for the risk. It comes from the glory of victory and the agony of defeat. It comes from merely living and, more importantly, being able to recognize it. After all, it is quite pointless to have something if you don’t know what it’s for.

Have I experienced a lot since I first stepped foot into V Building in the Marshall residence halls? At the very least, I can give a laundry list of the things that I’ve done in my time, but that would be pointless.

However, I do still have my regrets. They’re not just petty ones about relationships or classes. “”Have I experienced enough?”” is again the question. And perhaps my trepidation about graduating revolves more around this than even the possibility of not being able to find a job afterwards. I’m afraid that, despite the multitude of things that I’ve been through and accomplished, it’s still not enough. Have I made the most of my time here in college?

After talking with a friend, Caroline, I realized how much I had missed out. You see, she’s been to 13 countries and me, well, the farthest place I’ve been is Las Vegas. This is, perhaps, the biggest regret I have about college: not studying abroad. Of course, it was an initial consideration of mine, but I never put the effort behind it. I was thinking about Sweden, actually, as strange as it would seem for an Asian to consider. Hockey is great over there during the winter. But, unfortunately, I didn’t take the opportunity.

Here’s some advice to the underclassmen: Go abroad! Though I didn’t, I can assure you it will be the one of the best experiences you will have not only in college but also in life. I’ve been told enough stories from friends who have traveled to know. If you don’t go, you’ll be writing about your regret of not going (maybe even in the school newspaper).

That’s where I am now. Don’t get me wrong; college has been thoroughly enjoyable, even though there are some lingering regrets about certain missed opportunities, and I am not referring solely to studying abroad.

This takes me to the future and the possibilities in store. For once in my life, I am truly clueless about what will happen in the future. When I was younger, the choices were simple: I’d continue on with school; one grade leads to the next. After high school, I knew I would attend UCSD. But now, things are different. I’ve reached another chasm to cross and all I can do for now is look out into the horizon. There are a dozen bridges that I can cross and it’s nearly impossible to choose between them.

Maybe this is where the fear comes from. It’s not from the unwillingness to graduate. Trust me, I’m ready to leave. It’s not the fear of committing myself to an 8-to-5 job. It’s the initial step onto one of the creaky bridges. It’s forcing oneself to take that important step. And there are no nets. Do we, do I, have the experience to choose correctly?

Ultimately, there is only one way to find out and that is to take the initial step. And quite a big step it is indeed, but I have the confidence to take it. I’ve gone through a great deal since I came here, both good and bad experiences, but experiences nonetheless. And with each came a lesson and memory to remember. Four years’ worth of hard work and great times leads to this and the pressure is building to show that all that I’ve worked for wasn’t for naught. I’m ready to get the hell out of here, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared.

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