When I mention that I'm graduating to someone, the first question the person asks is how I feel about it. Honestly, it's a hard question to answer because there isn't one singular emotion. Depending on the day or my mindset, or what it is in particular that I'm thinking about, my thoughts about graduating vary. At this point, I've felt probably every single emotion in the book. But, when I reflect on the last two years I've spent at my university (since I transferred from a community college), there is one resounding feeling: gratitude.

I don't think you can mentally prepare yourself for how much college will change your life. When most people think of college, the first thought that comes to mind is the classes, the homework, the projects, the things that you check off your list to get closer and closer to your degree with every passing semester. After all, it's the main reason why you applied to colleges in the first place. But college is so much more than that. It's learning to get comfortable living in a dorm room with a stranger. It's staring at your planner wondering how you're going to get all your homework done. It's joining as many clubs as you can to "get involved." It's meeting people that you know nothing about but soon know everything about as they become your closest friends. And all these things, whether you realize it or not, will impact you in a meaningful way.

In my case, the two years I was here have gone by so quickly it's crazy. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I arrived on move-in day nervous about starting at a new school and feeling like the campus was so foreign. But soon enough, I eased into it, got comfortable, and started enjoying my time here. Of course, I've had my share of negative experiences. I've done homework the night before — or the day of — because I procrastinated too much. I've made friends only to realize they weren't as good as I thought. I've joined clubs I thought sounded cool only to quit, disappointed because it wasn't what I expected. I've been frustrated, upset, and anxious more times than I could ever count.

But even more than that, there have been a countless number of times when I've felt so happy to be here, to have taken the classes I did, to have the amazing friends that I do, to do even the littlest things that I never would've imagined myself doing before I came here. There's so much that I've loved about my time here, from learning something in a class that changed my perception of something to spur-of-the-moment trips to Walmart with my best friends just for the fun of it, finding my favorite study spots around campus to staying up until 3 a.m. having deep conversations about life with my roommate, discovering the best food options in the dining halls to exploring the town my university is nestled in.

None of this would've happened if I hadn't come here. It's reflecting on these moments that make me feel a flood of all the possible emotions, knowing that in a couple of weeks after I accept my diploma on a stage and move my tassel to the other side of my cap, that it'll all be over. It'll all be memories, and it'll be time to move on.

The two little words of "thank you" seem so hollow compared against what it is that I'm thankful for. I know that without my time at this university, and everything that has come along with that, I wouldn't be who I am now. I know that I've changed, but only for the better. Although college has been the best time of my life so far, I know that the best is yet to come. And I know that as I move on into the next chapters and phases of my life, I'm never going to forget my time spent here. To my university, I am infinitely grateful for everything.