Yesterday I was walking home from campus and accidentally dropped my cellphone on the sidewalk. It is a Galaxy S from T-Mobile; S as in S1, as in the first model that came out two years ago and is a lovely piece of junk. Usually when I drop the phone it continues to function and just gets a new scratch that adds some character to its appearance… which is what I thought happened during yesterday’s mishap. The reality, which I just discovered, is that The Big Drop actually resulted in my entire photo gallery being completely erased. At first I was bummed, realizing that I had some great memories documented in those photos (which were never backed up to my computer because sometimes I make poor decisions with technology), but then I realized… maybe there is some symbolism here; maybe I can learn from this.
Maybe this was a fluke accident and the symbolism is entirely artificial, or maybe there is a lesson here about not relying on technology and experiencing life without capturing every moment via technological resources, but I’m going to bypass those thoughts and instead just focus on the idea that having those pictures erased was a sign that it is time for me to reflect on how great the past four years have been as I slowly let go of college and begin to embrace the next chapter of my life.
Many of us graduating seniors will be going off in all different directions as we finish our undergraduate careers; some of you will be tackling graduate school, a new career, an internship, or maybe you will be boarding a plane for international travel (my personal favorite). As we move forward with these new beginnings, I encourage you to give yourself credit for what you have just completed. We must be aware of our successes as we begin to engage in the next phases of our lives, and not let anxiety or fear of the unknown overshadow our accomplishments! Too often I see people so overwhelmed by the stress of the transition that they forget to enjoy the present. As college graduates, we have a huge, fantastic achievement to celebrate! We are conditioned to always be thinking about the future and having something to work towards, but I want to remind you about that lovely clichéd quote “Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.” Remember that everything you have experienced has contributed to the creation of the person you are today, at this moment. You will continue to face adversity, have your plans change, grow apart from friends and have new encounters that drastically change the course of your life… but it is okay to stop, breathe, and think about how wonderful life has been so far. The past four years have not just been about school – life was happening. And if you are anything like me, you probably had a pretty fantastic time making mistakes, embracing new experiences, learning a ton about subjects you didn’t even know existed, studying to an extent and also accepting that some nights you just have to stay out late and have some nonacademic fun. Guess what? Those experiences are not limited to college; that is life, and it will continue to unfold in different variations and flavors as we move on from this specific environment.
These are reminders for myself as much as anyone else, but a recurring message I have been piecing together these past few years is to figure out whatever makes you happy and do that – whether it is how you make a living, how you entertain yourself outside of a job, what you do on weekends – whatever it is that gets you excited about life. Stress can be very powerful but it doesn’t deserve to blind us from our choice to appreciate our lives and make decisions that are beneficial to us. Life is meant to be enjoyed; sure, there are plenty of ups and downs that are out of our control, but we do have some say in our attitude and how we react to those circumstances.
Final words here from one graduate to another: embrace the change and be excited. Ride the nostalgia wave, go to happy hour at Bombs Away one last time, go look at the MU when it is all lit up at night because it is gorgeous and you can. Soak up these last few weeks of Corvallis so when it is time to say goodbye, “you won’t cry because it’s over, you will smile because it happened” (yes that is quote about relationships, but it makes sense in this context too, am I right?!).
I don’t know if I succeeded at making this a minimally clichéd farewell blog post as I end my career as a Liberal Arts Ambassador, but all I am trying to convey is that life is incredible and change can be great. Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s really tough, and sometimes it makes you feel invincible – all of which is completely acceptable. But as you are working your way through the emotions that come with a huge life transition… revel in the excitement that comes with being able to customize your life and create a reality you love!
Congrats to you all! J