At Last

This week and the one before have for me been full of lasts.  Well, technically the whole year has been full of lasts but I’ve tried not to dwell on that.  In the past couple of weeks I have had my last orchestra rehearsal and concert, my last a cappella rehearsal and concert, my last tap club rehearsal and concerts tonight and tomorrow (see a pattern?), alongside the more momentous ones like last college class and last college assignment.  Facebook is full of seniors’ statuses saying something along the lines of: “I’m done with college!!!”  It is all very exciting and kind of terrifying as well. 

Plus, I’m not really sure how graduation crept up on us so sneakily, but now it is only a week and a half away.  Suddenly I need to figure out where my giant family is going to go out to dinner when they come for graduation weekend, as well as how I am going to spend some quality time with all the people I want to say good-bye to.  It is decidedly bizarre.

So in this time of lasts, I thought I would share some things I have learned from my college experience, both at Pomona and abroad.  First, I have definitely learned a lot about myself—how I operate, what motivates me and what doesn’t, my degrees of comfort with different things and how I can be more flexible or take more responsibility and control.  I like to think I have become a lot more independent through my college career, both in the sense of taking care of myself (I can cook and do laundry now!) and in the sense of being fine when I am by myself.  Alone time is important.

Also, everything is a balance—between work and fun, between relying on yourself and relying on others, and so on.  I feel like in college you have to come to terms with your own shortcomings but also your strengths.  It is important to recognize that there will always be people who are “better” in whatever way (get a higher score, have more experience, look flashier, whatever) but that does not mean your accomplishments are not worthwhile.  You can always learn, always improve, and comparing yourself with others only gets you so far.  Self-definition is powerful.

Then there are the ways in which I have grown academically, expanding my knowledge about racial hierarchies and non-Western understandings of the world, as well as atomic structures and vector spaces.  The more you learn, the more there is to learn.  I realizing that once I leave this academic space (as exciting as it sounds right now: no more papers!) people will not think in the same way as people do here.  Don’t take the intellectual curiosity you are surrounded with for granted!  And there are so many cool and interesting, intellectual and thoughtful people across Pomona and the other colleges that I have simply never had the chance to meet.

Venturing out in to the “real world” is going to be an experience.  I can see why many people want to stay in academia, where amazing conversations and learning happen all the time, and your critical thinking skills are never allowed to get rusty.  However, I don’t think that is for me.  So I will have to redefine myself in some new space, wherever I end up.  Having grown a lot here I think it is time to move on to life’s next adventure.