It feels so surreal that my undergraduate career is over.
I still remember walking the stage at my high school graduation almost four years ago. I couldn’t believe I was leaving one part of my life behind to start another.
I was terrified.
I was sad.
I was excited.
Saying goodbye to so many people I’d spent so many years of my life with had me wondering if I would be able to maintain any of these relationships.
Of course, many friends come and go, that is a fact of life.
But I’ve only grown closer to the friends I did stay in contact with.
Now, I wonder the same thing about college friends. Except I worry significantly less.
The people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made here — I can confidently say the real ones will always be in my corner, no matter where we go or how far away we are from each other.
Even so, it can be sad to think that this chapter of my life (easily the best so far) is coming to a close.
Yes, I’ll still be at UB for graduate school, but my goals and responsibilities will shift heavily.
It’s scary, but it’s also beautiful.
Life will never stay the same, no matter how much we try to keep it still.
But we must not fear change. We must embrace it.
Even if the next chapter of our lives doesn’ not pack the same pleasures as the last, that should have no bearing on how happy we can be.
We must welcome the next part of our lives, for it is only from the experiences of days past that we have become what we are now. The good, the bad: it all helped us grow into something greater than we could have possibly imagined.
I remember, when I entered college, wanting nothing more than to become a writer. I wanted to see the world and record those experiences in a way that would enthrall and/or inform my readers.
But that changed. In the last year, I developed a fascination with stocks and the charts that record the day-to-day changes in the market. This prompted my entry into graduate school, where I will now study finance.
If you told me a year ago that this is where I would be headed, I would have never believed you. Not in a million years.
And that’s my favorite part of life and college.
We grow. We change. We evolve.
Even in the middle of my college career — sophomore year to be exact — I knew I had to find something that would help me work toward my journalistic goals. Walking into The Spectrum, I felt so intimidated. I met a boatload of ambitious writers who had already been there for years. I thought I was a gifted writer, but I became discouraged when I saw these godlike reporters effortlessly craft pieces requiring next-to-no edits.
But that changed, too. I chose to keep going, and to take all the criticism I could (shout out to Justin and Reilly for all their help and support!). Before long, I saw myself improving so much. But I know I wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t taken that initial leap.
As I enter the world of financial risk management, I feel humble. I feel ready to discover that I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as I thought. I feel ready to get discouraged, to learn, to make mistakes.
And that’s because I will learn from those mistakes to become more successful in this field than I think possible.
We can never predict where we will end up — even if the future is just a few short months away. We can make as many plans as we want. Hell, we can even stick to them religiously. But even then we shall evolve in a way we could not have foreseen.
Am I sad to see these four years come to an end? Very much so.
But I’m even happier to move on to what comes next. The friends that matter will still be in my life, and I will make even more, some who 2018 me would never have even considered befriending. And the experiences I will enjoy, with my friends and with myself, will be even better than before, even if my free time will dwindle significantly.
And that’s the point! Responsibilities may pile up, but with money from a real job and less time to spend it, the memories we make with college friends will be more beautiful than ever. I’m looking forward to reuniting with the old roommates I see ever so rarely now. We’ll enjoy every moment together so much more, because less time leads to more value.
So I say to you, dear reader: it is OK to be sad to leave behind what has seemingly become your entire life, but do not dwell on it.
The future — no, YOUR future — is coming, and even if you have no idea what it holds, it will be brighter than you could ever predict.
Alex Falter is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Falter is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum.