That headline is pretty cliche, am I right? I’m cool with it, though, because as Dr. Mark Sloan of ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ said, “Cliches became cliches for a reason. Because they worked.”
I am forever humbled by and grateful for this University because of the opportunities that I was able to seek out and the moments of growth that I knew were in store for me. However, the true impact of these last four years was made most prominently by the unexpected; the opportunities, people, experiences and hardships that I never saw coming. This place broke me, melted me down and re-sculpted me from the ground up. And now, here at the end, I stand taller, stronger and braver than I ever thought I could be.
But that never would have happened had I not learned to embrace the unknown and let go of what I thought college and life in general should be. Letting go and surrendering any level of control to your circumstances and an uncharted future isn’t easy and it really does take practice. When you finally do it though, your ceiling of possibility starts to rise and suddenly you can take on the world, because you are no longer confined to a tiny box full of fear and expectations that you refuse to let go of.
I promise you this: The problem is never that you can’t get out of that box, it’s that you won’t. And if we’re being one hundred percent honest here, that piece of reality can really suck to accept. But the sooner you do it, the closer to the top of the world you will be.
Of course what I learned in the classroom at CSU will be infinitely helpful to me as I begin to make my way in this world. But in my opinion, the most important thing I have learned here is the amount of willpower and commitment it takes to be resilient, to be fair and to constantly work to embody better versions of yourself. I also learned and personally observed that an average person won’t rise quite that high, and unfortunately there are a lot of people who are okay with that.
I’m asking you to refuse to be average, to refuse to be defined by what has happened to you and what you fear could happen in the future. So, back to the art of cliches for a second — if you shed your expectations, fears and doubts and actually learn to let go and just focus on the journey, it will work. Your dreams will work. Your life will be so amazing, even to you, the one who sees it happen every day.
At the end of The Office, in one of his last interviews with the film crew, Andy Bernard says “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.” For those of you who know and love the show as much as I do, you can picture that scene — and you may recall that it’s one of the most authentic, humble, and sentimental moments of Andy’s character who is known for being annoyingly competitive, confident, and overly-animated in social settings and the workplace.
I’m young, I have years to go, “miles to go before I sleep,” I know that. There are many more periods of “good old days” to come. But there is a certain nostalgia that hits when a long-term experience such as college comes to a close — especially an experience that, more often than not, changes your entire life.
Maybe sometimes we were great and sometimes we were kidding ourselves. Maybe some of the things that happened here were mistakes and maybe they really weren’t. But it was great. It was challenging. And now, finally at the top of this mountain, I can see that it was perfect even when things didn’t go as planned.
Finishing school isn’t always some grand, graceful exit where everything around you seems to shimmer with gold and endless possibility. Sometimes it’s a quieter departure onto bigger and better things, tinged with an exciting uncertainty and encased in a deep-rooted respect and love for the lectures, professors and fellow students who ever opened your mind. I’m out of here, but your contributions to my success and my life’s path are certainly coming with me.
And, lastly, an end isn’t actually ever an end at all. It’s a starting line.
Collegian Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill has an endless appreciation for her readers, her fellow writers and the opportunity to be part of something bigger at student media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.