When I look back on my four years of college, it was some of the best experiences, the best friendships, the best laughs, the best adventures, and the best memories…but only thus far. Everybody says, “college will be the best four years of your life!” I don’t know about you, but I think the rest of our lives would be pretty depressing if the best four years of our lives happened in our early twenties, before we’ve even really had a chance to live life to the fullest. I don’t believe that everything else is all downhill from here. College isn’t the best four years of our lives, but it is where we learn to grow, connect, and begin the journey into the rest of our lives.
College was an experience I’ll never forget and it left a lasting impact on my life so I’ll tell you all the incredible things college has imparted on us fellow graduates over the years. The lessons and memories we’ll take with us forever as we enter the REAL best years of our lives.
There’s this stigma that we have to be perfect. Especially once we hit adulthood, the perception is that you’re no longer allowed to make mistakes. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The mistakes we make in life, even after we leave college, are the things that help us to grow and become better individuals. So the test you failed, or the final you slept through, it all turned out alright in the end, right? You might have even learned a thing or two about resilience and continuing to move forward despite failures, which is what life is really all about.
Sometimes we have these ideas about where we’re going to end up. We plan and we plan and, at the end of the day, our plans all unravel only to fall apart at our feets. However, they always transform into something more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. With every no, there’s a yes around the next corner and that path is probably better than anything we hoped for. Not being accepted to that club or changing your major three times lead you to a path that you were even happier with. You can look back now and see that your journey ended up nothing like you expected it to but you probably like it better that way anyway.
Making new friendships and getting know people is one of the highlights of the “College Experience”. They’re the people that we choose to be friends with, not because we have every class with them and they’re really good at assignments, but because we genuinely like them and vibe with them. But during college we learned that not all friendships are meant to last, your best friend from freshman year may be someone who you never even speak to anymore. It’s always sad to realize that you could have made such incredible memories with someone, only for them to not really be in your life anymore. There is one good thing about this though, because the friendships that do last will be the best ones. Those are the ones where you know that they’ll be there for you even after we take off our cap and gowns and head out into the real world.
It’s always been easy to compare ourselves to others around us and the accomplishments they’re making in their lives. We look at them and say, “Wow, they’ve done all this in the last few years and I’ve only done this, I’m so behind.” Throughout the process of college we came to realize that everyone’s journey is their own and we are all in our own lanes, on different paths, maybe even going different speeds but all heading to the same destination of success. All that matters is that we reach the finish line.
With no one to tell you who to be, you became exactly the person you’ve always wanted to be. Maybe after high school, college allowed you to transition into a beautiful social butterfly, or have the courage to date every type of person under the sun, or even rebel against your parents. Whatever the changes were that you experienced during college, you were able to grow and blossom into an outstanding human being.
College became the time for you to take ownership of your own beliefs. Whatever beliefs you had growing up, college was the time that you decided if that’s truly where your heart and mind were grounded. You didn’t have parents around to tell you to go to church anymore or who the right presidential candidate was. You began to make all of those decisions for yourself and you were happy in knowing that even if you did vote for the same candidate as your parents, it was because you wanted to and not because they told you to.
Most people don’t think responsibility is all that exciting but when you’re finally on your own in college and you get to make all of your own decisions, it’s definitely thrilling. Part of the fun is choosing to eat junk food three nights in a row and then utilizing your responsibility to realize that it may have not been the healthiest choice. You recognized that your mom isn’t there to force you to eat your beans so you started making those decisions for yourself. You may have even felt pretty good about all of your adult decision making but, let’s be real, that didn’t mean you didn’t eat junk food for dinner during finals week.
Adventure is out there. There’s more to life after graduation and you can’t discover it if you’re too scared to ever grow up. With every semester came a different change and you realized you can’t hold on to the things from the past. So we learned to let go of things and embrace the new changes of every new moment. That’s exactly what graduating is like. It’s taking a step into the unknown, letting go of our inhibitions and fears and trusting in the beauty of what adventures lie ahead. So go out, make mistakes, fall down, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and keep making magic. Class of 2016, it’s our time.
Lorna Gabrielle Balfour is a senior at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, UT. Lorna graduates this May in a degree that she created herself, as well as a minor in Psychology. She named her major Broadcasting and Production and it focuses on a blend of Film Production, Journalism, and Marketing. Her major has allowed her the opportunity to gain experience from the entire realm of media where she dabbles in social media marketing, producing films, and writing as a journalist and reporter. As an Emma Bowen Scholar, she has had the opportunity to work and engage with many media executives from the likes of ABC, HBO, Comcast|NBCUniversal, as well as many others. Lorna has also been a model and actress for the last fifteen years and recently signed with a talent agency to continue working professionally. She is the creator of Sickle Cellebrity, a blog that focuses on bringing to light the rare disease of Sickle Cell Anemia. Lorna is also the blogger of SincerelyLorna.com and is in the process of an exciting new media venture. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.