Sitting cross-legged in the midst of a shipwreck that is my friend’s room in the middle of moving out, I find myself reminiscing at my long but weirdly short Freshman year.
The massive weight from finals was pleasantly gone and I could finally catch up on sleep. Ironically, I am writing this at 5 AM on a Wednesday morning, desperate to cling onto the last moments of the school year before I have to finally bid it goodbye.
Looking back, a tugging feeling reminded me that I left a long collection of unchecked boxes on my “Freshman bucket list”.
I didn’t meet and befriend every single person who lived in my college hall or talk to all the students who attended the same class I did. I learned the hard way that this wasn’t really the way college worked.
I could seem to establish neither a fixed workout routine nor a healthy diet, and it definitely did not help that dining halls had unlimited supplies of ice cream. On top of that, Penn was basically pouring out free food everywhere.
I didn’t get the chance to pay respect to the cult favorite dessert parlor, Franklin Fountain, and I have yet to visit Magic Gardens.
I don’t have cute pictures from snow day photoshoots with friends. I didn’t take as many polaroid pictures as I would have liked either.
I didn’t even manage to use up my meal swipes despite running out of Dining Dollars in March.
I also did not, contrary to popular rom-com portrayals, find the love of my life (notice the hint of sarcasm).
The list doesn’t end there, really, but it doesn’t matter. Despite all the things I have not done, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that I have.
I survived not one, but two rounds of finals. And of course, each came with their own set of “midterms” which neither fell in the middle of the term not stopped until two days before finals.
I took classes that I was actually passionate about and took care in what I learnt. I opened myself up to new interests and even potential career paths.
I tried food from all over the world (many of which were free from random Facebook events, what would I do without Facebook) and explored the beeline of International food trucks that spanned Penn’s campus.
I survived the horror that was the laundry room without losing one of every pair of socks I own (I actually lost 2).
I met more people than I ever had before – and these were intelligent, ambitious, determined people – who inspired me to become the best version of me possible.
At the same time, I was able to navigate this sea of humans to find my kind of people. These are the people who make me laugh, motivate me to think outside of the box and broaden my perspective, and push me to pursue my dreams. For these meaningful friendships, I am forever grateful.
And most importantly, I grew to know myself better. In what seemed to be the busiest times of my life, I’ve surprisingly managed to make the most time for myself than ever before. I came to understand how to process my feelings, sort through my thoughts, and plan my next steps. I reminded myself when to catch my breath and when to push forward.
And to be honest, when it comes to next steps, sometimes it’s scary to dream too big. More often than I would like, I doubt whether I’m good enough to reach the goals that I set. Moments like these is when I look back to all the milestones that I had achieved, big and small. Completing first year of college definitely falls into the big milestone category. In my fear, I find the strength to prove my worries wrong, and this is my hope for you too.
Whenever you feel trapped and ready to give up, never to underestimate yourself. As cliché as it sounds, believing yourself is the first and most crucial step to accomplishing anything in life, and a huge part of it comes from appreciating your achievements and learning from lost opportunities. There is no use to beat yourself up for missing out on a few meaningless points as long as you fully live in the moment.
Alas, CONGRATULATIONS!! As the year comes to a close, dear fellow Freshmen and college students, I hope you take my advice. But keep it in your pocket for now. Right now, it’s time for you to kick back and celebrate. Have a wonderful summer!