"You are all that you have been."
As Dr. Diane Christian took us on a journey through our past semester's learning in English 375, Heaven, Hell and Judgment, she expressed many ideas but this is the one that stuck out to me the most.
This is the one I started to think about. This is the one that I will most likely lay awake tonight, considering as I stare up at a ceiling full of inspiring quotations.
"You are all that you have been."
By all definitions it has been a "good" freshman year. I kept up with my studies and found a group of friends I'm convinced will follow me to the end (and I am willing to follow each of them just as far).
I've even given myself a purpose within the UB community as next year's senior photo editor here at The Spectrum.
Most importantly, however, I've started to be honest about who I am.
For five years, I've lied to myself about my sexuality. I have hated myself, struggling to change something that I now understand is simply impossible to change.
I am gay, and no matter what anyone tries to tell me, I know that is who I am and there is nothing wrong with that.
I am as God made me, and I will forever be proud to live the life He has blessed me with.
We all have something we lie to ourselves about. It might be our sexuality, a vice we cannot resist, or a viewpoint we are unwilling to admit. It is only natural to be ashamed of parts of ourselves, but a part of growing up is learning to accept those parts of ourselves we'd rather not.
I'm not saying I'm more of an adult than others. In fact, if you've seen me on campus, I'm far from "adulthood".
I'm the kid who sings on his way to classes, or at the very least mouths every single word to Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like A Woman!" as the song pumps through my ear buds. Not exactly the epitome of adulthood.
While I may not be an adult, I feel that I have achieved a certain level of understanding in my life. I hold a strong belief that every moment before the present influences who we are right now—even the seemingly insignificant ones.
Something as simple as a sneeze can save your life, if it serves to hold you back from stepping into oncoming traffic. Every moment counts, and every moment should be appreciated as such—an immeasurable gift that brought you to the moment of infinite possibility that we call "now."
If there is anything my freshman year has taught me, it can be quickly summed up in the memorable words of Dr. Christian, "you are all that you have been."
Every moment you are alive defines you. I am a homosexual male, but I am also a teenager mounting the stage, heart pounding as I reach out for my diploma.
I may be a college student partying at nightclubs, but I am also a three-year-old, content with a kiddy pool and a bucket in the backyard on a hot summer day.
You may be a college student or a professor, or even a visitor to our beautiful UB campus, but you are so much more than that. You are the son who once argued with his father about a curfew, or a sister who fought over who got to play with the Ken doll that afternoon.
You are a friend to someone and an idol to another.
You are a human being, blessed with yet another day on this amazing, complex, beautiful earth.
"You are what you have been."
The past is set. You cannot change who you have been but the future is undetermined. Who you will be is up to you so make every moment count. Appreciate all that has brought you here and above all, be true to yourself.
Because in the end, who you are is really all you get to claim as your own.