June 17, 2017, was the day I graduated from Northwestern. It is a day I had waited for and worked towards from the day I arrived on campus. Although there is already significance to that day, it wasn’t just about that day; it was about all the days and nights that made up the weeks, months, and years I call my undergraduate experience.
It dawned on me early in my Northwestern experience that it would go by quickly; I remember a particular night mid-fall quarter of my freshman year sitting in the classroom of Shepard Residential College with a few new friends I had made. We weren’t all studying for the same thing, but I remember many of us were studying chemistry together. I think it was probably around the second round of exams for the quarter. During an impromptu study break, I looked around and couldn’t believe I had already been on campus for almost three months. I definitely had already had some hard moments, but overall I was loving it. “I feel like this is going to go by so fast,” I observed. “We definitely need to take in every moment as it comes.”
Every year, at multiple points in the year, I would remind myself to take it all in. I didn’t want to speed anything up, no matter how unpleasant, and I didn’t want to slow anything down, no matter how sweet. I wanted to take in every moment as it came and allow it to give way to the next moment, in due time. I knew each was shaping me, helping me grow, connecting me to amazing people, and creating beautiful memories. But I couldn’t believe how quickly each year was going.
When I finally reached graduation week (which was truly a weeklong ordeal; there were so many ceremonies and events to attend, but it was fantastic!) it felt, simultaneously like I had been at Northwestern for ages, but also like I had just started only few weeks before. Although I was happy to be graduating and moving on to greater things, I was also a bit sad. I realized I would be leaving a unique environment that had stretched me emotionally and challenged me intellectually. I don’t think there is much I would change; I am so happy and blessed to have had the experience, and June 17, 2017, will forever signify that. The truth is, while you’re in it, it will seem long, but one day you’ll blink and it will be time for you to wrap up. I hope when that day comes, though bittersweet, you would have taken every moment for what it was, leaving everything on the table, and having no regrets.