I have been imagining my college graduation day from a very young age. Although the versions would vary, there were a few consistencies throughout my imageries: long hair, big smile, some fancy dress making me look like a model, shaking the hand of a European distinguished professor from an Ivy League, a long list of friends and extended family ready to greet me with open arms. Basically, I dreamed of the quintessential movie moment in which all of my immediate problems are solved with a toss of my hat thrown in the air, and a freeze frame of my perfectly white-toothed smile.
But what I have learned in the past four years at UC Irvine is not only that most likely none of what I desired would happen, but also that none of it should happen. What I believed my life to be this year, such as graduating with excessive honors, becoming a marathon runner and having the best wardrobe seen to mankind, are all the typical dreams that mainstream society expects those who are deemed successful to make their reality.
None of the aforementioned events in their entirety will accompany me on my commencement day. And yet, I truly could not be more satisfied with my college career. I learned more about not only myself, but also how to love others with my whole heart. Whether it be from the romantic successes and failures, to the nights filled with laughter and tears with friends, to even finally respecting and understanding how to love and appreciate my parents’ decisions, I know that what I have learned from my four years at UCI is the most I have learned in my 21 years of living.
In the fall, I am moving to London. I am starting my life over in a brand new place where I literally do not know a single person. I will be attending a master’s program that will most likely consume my life. But with these new adventures comes new expectations of what my new life abroad will be. Some amazing British man, graduating with honors and scholarship and living in flat in the center of London — just a few of what I hope my future holds.
Before my undergraduate years, I would be dismayed at the thought that most likely none of those expectations will come true (although I’m really hoping that whole British guy thing is going to work out). But now, I know. What
I think I will want in the future is not what I actually am going to want when the time comes. What will happen, whether it be better or worse, is going to make me into the person I need to be, not the person I want to be.
I’ll never know what I’m going to do. And finally, for the first time in my life, I’m OK with that. Thank you, UCI.