As I stare down the last two weeks of my college career, I am forced to look back on my last four years at Vanguard and evaluate the memories that I have. As I am thinking back on all of them, I am met with the unfortunate conclusion that I am about to graduate with regrets–and the worst part? Because of COVID, I can’t even use what little time I have to fix it.
This advice comes from a place of deep sadness and hope that you will not have to leave this place with the same numbness I will.
- Just Say “Yes”
All those floor events and school events that are late at night when all you want to do is sit in bed and watch Netflix or when the people on your floor or quad are going on a midnight In-N-Out run or watching the sunrise at Newport are amazing memories that you’re going to miss. I only went to a handful of events while I was a student and living on campus, and you know what? They were actually pretty fun–so shocking, I know. There were people on my floor that I would have never talked to if not for going to those couple of events, and it gave me the opportunity to get to know my RAs who ended up being friends that I still cherish and talk to now. (Shout out to Maggie Dillion, Emma Creek, and Mariama Catamby, you the best.) So when you’re asked, just say “yes” because I am going to end college being able to count the “crazy” memories I have on one hand, but countless opportunities I passed up because I didn’t “feel” like it.
- Know Your Department
I didn’t actually start getting to know the other students in the English Department until last year, and this is probably my biggest regret. I spent my first two years too afraid to talk to them because I was intimidated by their intelligence and their talent, but then I actually talked to them and they are some of the most amazing people I have ever known. This last year, I’ve felt like I have finally gotten on the road to becoming more than class-friends with them, but because of COVID, I feel like I have lost the last bits of time I had left to really get to know them before we are all gone. And I wish with everything in me that I could rewind time and not be so afraid.
- Live in the Moment
This one is so cliche, I know, but it’s true. You’re only going to get one shot at this life, and if you make the same mistake I did in constantly thinking about the next thing, you’re going to miss out on the moment you’re in. I spent these last four years just thinking about the next step in my plan, shutting down things that didn’t fit in my idea of my future, that I missed out on all the steps that lead to my future. I was so focused on where I was going, I didn’t always take the time to make those lifelong friends everyone keeps talking about. Because, in order to make those friendships, you need to make memories, and you need to be present. Present at the caf eating the notorious dry chicken. Present while your professor wastes class time talking about their personal life. Present in the opportunities around you.
Look, assignments and projects can be pushed to the last minute, but memories and friendships cannot. Truth be told, I didn’t start trying to make college worth it until my last semester, and you know what happened? A global pandemic. So don’t make the same mistakes I did in thinking that there will always be another opportunity because life is unpredictable. Now I scroll through my Instagram feed and see all these people that I’ve known for four years post about all the amazing memories and people they’ve met, and I can’t help but wish that could be me too.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Gosh Ket, this was depressing.” And you’re not wrong. My college experience wasn’t what I expected, and I wish I would have been like most of you and not been afraid to make friends. Despite my many regrets, there are a few things that I am glad I took seriously, like good friendships with my professors. I think that is probably what I will miss most about not having graduation, not having the opportunity to properly thank the people that taught me to believe in myself and my calling for the last four years.
Maybe you’re nothing like me and you’re taking advantage of every moment to make new memories and new friends, but I know that there are people out there like me that will ride out college and pass up opportunities. While being driven is never bad, don’t let your future keep you from enjoying your present.