Four years later: behind the scenes of my college experience

Four+years+later%3A+behind+the+scenes+of+my+college+experience

Nadia Fale

In preparation for commencement, I have taken time to reflect on the last four years and the many lessons that I have learned.

Staring at the unopened package containing my graduation cap and gown, I am amazed at how quickly four years can slip by. A sense of nostalgia takes over as I am taken back to the last time that I prepared for a commencement ceremony. Four years ago, my 17-year-old self had huge plans to move to New York City and further my education. As fate would have it, those plans changed and I attended college just a few hours away from my home town. Today, I understand that staying home for college was an integral step in my overall growth. Smiling, I recall the countless lessons learned throughout my years at Chaminade, the best of which had nothing to do with any of the courses that I had enrolled in.

Freshman Year: Self Discovery

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I lay in my dark and unfamiliar dorm room. It was the first weekend of school and both of my roommates were away. Reality had set in as I realized that as thrilling as independence was, it was also terrifying and absolutely lonely. Helplessly, I drowned in the greatest loneliness I had yet experienced.

The drowning ended quickly however, as I learned to embrace my independence. Without my mother watching my every move, I was able to explore what it meant to be me. I had been born and raised in the Mormon church in a predominantly Mormon community, and for the first time I had adequate space to challenge the beliefs that had been impressed upon me my entire life.

I began to question my self identity as I realized that I had spent my life striving to be all that my family and church expected me to be. When it came down to it, I knew next to nothing about myself. But as my philosophy professor had said, the first step to gaining wisdom is admitting that you know nothing. In that case, I was well on my way to self discovery.

Sophomore Year: Progress is Impossible Without Change

After trudging through a year as a biology major, it became clear that my passion to become a pediatrician was in actuality, my mother’s passion for me. Math and science had always been my weakest subjects, while I excelled in reading and writing. My mother worried about my future financial security and was constantly reminding me that the medical field was stable as well as prestigious. I urged her to consider that without passion I would fail to be truly successful. Much to her dismay, at the conclusion of my sophomore year I changed my major to communication and to this day I can say that doing so was the best academic decision of my college career.

Junior Year: All Work and No Play Makes Nadia a Dull Girl

Becoming a resident assistant was a great experience and one that I will always remember, but it was also a great burden. Living where I worked meant that work never really ended. It is often said that you shouldn’t bring your work home with you, but I had no choice. There was not much that I could do to escape and halfway through the year I was beyond burnt out. Being overworked taught me the importance of scheduling time for myself to rest, play and ultimately remain sane.

Senior Year: Your Happiness is Your Responsibility

Throughout my college years I have watched too many of my friends crave romantic relationships with the intention of securing their own happiness. Admittedly, I too have entertained such ideas. Recently, however, I was able to take a step back and recognize that the concept of needing to find one’s “other half”  is overly romanticized, suggesting dependence and diminishing self worth. Before we seek a serious relationship with another person, we must first secure a healthy relationship with ourselves. Now that I have gained a comfortable grasp on my self identity, my next task has become achieving a level of self love that allows me to be alone without feeling lonely and to become the provider of my own happiness.

As thrilled as I will be when I receive my bachelor’s degree in Communication, it is the unwritten lessons that will stick with me. Confident in who I am, I will step off of this island that I call home, ready to embrace change. I will work hard while remembering that it’s okay to play every now and then. And, most importantly, I will be independent in my pursuit of happiness because I love who I am and don’t require another person to complete me. After four years, my 21-year-old self feels adequately prepared and can proudly say that I am moving forward with plans to move to New York City and further my education.