The end of the school year is a time that is almost always accompanied by complex emotions, unexpected changes, and lots of self-reflection. It is a period in which we are forced to look back at the events and experiences that defined this past year and consider how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. It’s an opportunity for bittersweet nostalgia but also biting regret. It’s the time when we contemplate our feelings about the things in our lives and reexamine their places in our future.
Change can be painful, creeping up on you without warning. While initially there is panic as you try to pick up the pieces from the cataclysmic destruction that is change, you realize there is peace that can be found in the beauty hidden beneath perceived disaster.
I have seen the rubble turn into rubies and death turn into rebirth. I have begun to understand that while change is a terrifying thing, one that is heart wrenching and devastating, it is also inevitable and necessary. It is what will lead you down the path of discovering who you are and what you want.
Over the course of this year, I’ve experienced unexpected changes that I could not have foreseen. I have felt the profound impacts of loss, the painful feelings of rejection, and the devastating pangs of disappointment. But with all of these experiences, I have come to understand more about myself and the life I want to lead. As I look back on each quarter, I reflect on the events I experienced and the things I learned.
Fall Quarter was one which I look back at with a fondness and appreciation that will never go away. Moving back to campus felt frightening and foreign, having to live with people I didn’t know and entering an environment that I was unfamiliar with. I worried about discovering my place and finding new friends. But despite those initial fears, I found solace and safety in the four girls I lived with. Together we built a home away from home. The fun we had, the memories we made, and the relationships we built were ones I knew I would carry with me for the rest of my life. That quarter I learned that some people come into your life when you need them most, and that these people can help shape you into the person you were meant to be. It was the best way to start the new year. Everything felt right. Times were simple and things were good.
During Winter Quarter, my best friend and one of my roommates decided to take a leave of absence from school. For selfish reasons, I wanted nothing more than for her to stay. I was devastated by her decision, but I also understood her reasoning. I watched her, one of the people I admire most in this world, take a risk I had never even considered. I saw a girl who always put others first, finally put herself first. The courage she had to pave her own path was something that had inspired me in such a profound way. As I have watched her grow and flourish during her time since then, I have never felt more proud. Her departure taught me so much about bravery, maturity, and hope. It taught me that change is not something to fear, but to embrace.
Spring quarter was one filled with among the most difficult changes. It was during this time that I not only learned but practiced what it means to accept change and to put yourself first. It was crushing and difficult, but it made me realize how change doesn’t have to be bad. Change is a part of growing up and finding yourself. It’s painful and unbearable at the time, a reality that makes you want nothing more than to go back to how it was before. But I’ve come to discover a new perspective, one that looks at changes with hope and promise rather than shame and regret.
While there were a number of lessons I took away from this year, the key realization I came to was reaching the understanding that you can’t stay stagnant in what is safe and good; sometimes it is the leap of faith or the acceptance of something new that is the path you are meant to take. To look at change through a new lens is to embrace your growth and harness your strength. I feel such gratitude for all the ups and downs that this year has brought and for the beautiful roommates that helped define my sophomore year and have impacted me in a way I would never have expected. So, thank you to everyone who made this year so special.
Photo via Jessica Tan on Unsplash