It’s time to say farewell to third year.
I still have a bunch of finals left (I’m literally writing this while taking a break from the two projects, two essays, and one exam I still have to finish/write/study for), but I’m pretty much packed up to go otherwise. Looking around my empty room makes me excited and melancholy at the same time — on one hand, I’m so ready to get out of here, wolf down my mom’s delicious food again, and get a taste of life as a professional software engineer. On the other hand, some of my closest friends are graduating this year, and it just won’t be the same when I return in the fall. Life happens, though, and I’ve found that the best way to deal with change is to accept it, move on, and make the best of your circumstances.
This year hasn’t been easy. First semester, I found myself juggling classes for two majors, a job as an executive assistant to someone running for local office, and a high-intensity student government position. At first, it was exhilarating to wake up and review my (very) full schedule for the day, to attend meetings one right after the other, and to still have enough energy left to crush all of my school assignments in the evening.
As the semester kicked into gear and every task and assignment got more demanding, though, I found myself struggling to keep up and getting more and more burnt out. Instead of being excited to start my day, the idea of all the work that had inevitably piled up from days before made me want to avoid getting out of bed for as long as possible.
My partner pulled me aside one day. “Are you okay?” he asked, concern evident in his eyes. “You’re not sleeping, you’re barely eating, and you’ve let all these assignments slip. This is really impacting your mental health; you’ve got to do something about it.”
As much as my workaholic self hated to admit it, he was right. I quit my job as the executive assistant and resigned from my student government position. At the time, it felt like breaking up with someone I really, really cared about (although I cried more over those resignation emails than I did over any breakup), but it really was for the sake of my own mental well-being. I began to enjoy my schedule again. The following semester, I joined the founding cohort of my school’s Toastmasters club as the Vice President Education, started attending hackathons, won one of those hackathons, devoted more time to this blog, and landed an internship at one of the coolest fashion companies I know.
When I look back at my college years in the future, I’ll definitely be nostalgic for the era I spent simultaneously working my ass off and learning how to live. This school — and college in general — is really good at forcing people to come to terms with themselves. When I arrived back on campus at the start of third year, I was determined to make a difference and be a leader like the upper years I had seen before me. It didn’t turn out like I’d imagined, but I believe I’ve met all the goals that I’ve set for myself this year.
I learned that a healthy mental state leads to the most productivity (so I’ll do everything possible to ensure I don’t burn out again), that nothing is more valuable than loyal friends who support and genuinely care, and that sometimes, difficult tradeoffs must be made in order for the final result to be the one you want.
To all the friends, enemies, family, professors, colleagues, and classmates who I’ve been lucky enough to share the last ten months with, third year has been an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so looking forward to the next one. ♚