Beginning of an Ending

The prologue began the moment we clicked ‘submit’ after we tripled checked our applications, confirming that the lengthy essays, high school transcripts, and ACT scores were precisely listed without flaw.

Chapter One began the minute the thick blue and gold acceptance letters arrived in the mailbox and we opened it with hopeful eyes anxiously jumping directly to the first word of the document, “Congratulations”. Relief washed over us. Some of us faced a difficult choice, contemplating what city we would claim as home over the next four years. The decision ahead was a thought-provoking one. At age 17, I was mulling over the foundation of my future. And at 17, I was also mulling over if I should get another ear piercing with my friends. My point is that we were not used to making literally life-changing decisions. We had to decide what major programs had the strongest accolades, which school would best complement our personalities, and trust me, those were still in development at 17 too. While some had a challenging choice ahead, others already had blue and gold coursing through their blood from the moment the college search began. Or for the very fortunate, it began long before that. For my case, I was raised wearing Marquette Warriors outfits and watching D-Wade in his glory days and had long anticipated the day I would make Wisconsin Avenue my address.

Chapter Eight, the eighth and final semester of our undergraduate collegiate career, begins tomorrow.

While my mind is swimming with what I could possibly compose that would encompass this college journey in one post, I realize I would meet defeat. However, there is value in reflecting on where you’ve been in order to understand the path ahead. While I am making more significant decisions these days, larger than an ear piercing (which I did pursue), I feel called to reflect on the strange emotions a college freshman feels and how those early moments and fears have shaped where a college senior resides today.

Each part of our college story is unique. We start out somewhat clueless, realizing that we no longer have a curfew, a regular meal schedule, a kind reminder to do our homework or the luxury of free laundry. Looking back, the freedom was nothing short of exhilarating. Most of us had finally grown out of the high school routine and were ready and eager to take on the world, party hard, and experience the “real” “best four years of our lives”. Some of us found the new environment liberating while others immediately became overwhelmed. We hit early bumps in the road. We realized all-nighters were real, pizza for all three meals of the day wasn’t as fulfilling as it sounded, and just when we thought there’d be no way we’d ever miss our hometowns, we longed for a night in a familiar space.

We had little clue where college would take us. We pondered what friendships we would develop, which cramped house parties would host the best nights, which clubs we should join, what spot in the library had the fastest wifi, and how our majors would develop into dream careers. Deciding upon a major was easier for me than I thought. Due to the fact that I couldn’t even tell you the difference between physics, chemistry, and biology, I knew science was a no for me. Selecting a major that had the possibility of dictating our livelihood was terrifying. What no one tells you about making these decisions, is that they can change if you are willing to accept change. One factor of success, that I’ve recently begun to understand more clearly, is the power of adaptability. Ask any employment recruiter, teacher, boss, or 21-year old blogger who thinks she knows what she’s talking about, and they will tell you that having the ability to adapt to new situations and environments is amongst the top traits for a successful individual in any field of work or study. Understanding that there is power in generating a flexible, adaptable attitude will not only help to keep your life moving smoothly, but will help in any sort of transition period. Even in a transition as important as college.

College seniors hold a secret that one can only grasp once you’ve reached this part in the story We now know which major suits our personality and makes us feel challenged, fulfilled, and inspired. We know which clubs and activities to be involved in to satisfy our real interests, not those that we portray to the world to maintain social status. We know how to better study (unfortunately, some of us still don’t know how to combat procrastination). We know which bars and parties will lead us to the most unforgettable memories. We know it’s okay to cry, its encouraged to take naps, and socially acceptable to wear the same pair of leggings five days in a row. We know everyone calls their mom 5 times a day just to check-in or to ask how to make a baked potato (this was the content of my conversation with my own mom yesterday).

Clearly we know a lot. What we didn’t know at the beginning, however, is that we would never have survived if the people in our lives didn’t encourage us to keep moving. The friendships, the professors, the random classmates that gave you a reassuring look that they didn’t know what a cash flow statement was either, the family near or far, or even those on campus who you smiled at once, all impacted the journey we are on.

College freshman: find friends that will order pizza with you when you failed an exam even though you studied for two weeks. Find friends that will order pizza for you when you landed your first internship. Find friends that will order pizza just because and then bond and talk all night with you about your hopes and dreams. In the time span of just four years, they will not be your dorm-mates anymore, they probably won’t even live in the same state. They will not be in the library at 2AM with you attempting to understand standard deviations. They will, however, be your lifelong friends if you understand and appreciate the impact, little or significant, they have on you today.

Many who are reading this have impacted my college career. I acknowledge the presence you’ve served in my life, positive or negative. I appreciate your impact, good or bad. We will stress about the future a lot this semester. In fact, if I don’t find a job soon, stress will become my middle name. However, put aside the stress and the sadness (and even the studies sometime, too) and say “yes”. Say yes to your friends who want to go out. Say yes to the midnight ice cream runs even though spring break is two months away. Say yes to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

2012 Marquette commencement speaker Hank Aaron said, “What you do with your life and how you do it is not only a reflection on you, but on your family and all of those institutions that have helped to make you who you are”.

My first class is in 12 hours so I’m signing off, best of luck Marquette Class of 2018!

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