Wow. It's over. 5 years.... two years more than I thought I'd be here. But today, it's over. Three universities, 5 different majors, one summer studying abroad. It all comes down to this. It's over.
When I graduated high school, I had a very specific vision of college in my mind. I wanted the "typical" college experience. Maybe it was too many episodes of Gilmore Girls, watching Rory perfectly balance life at Yale and at home, and flawlessly find good friends and good times. I was convinced I needed to go out of state, to a four year college. I wanted a roommate and dining hall meals and football games. So I packed up and moved a state over to Delaware. The day my parents dropped me off at my new dorm, with a stranger for a roommate, was one of the most terrifying and thrilling moments of my life. "I'm growing up", I thought to myself as I sat on the floor of my suite mate's floor with all the other freshmen trying to figure out when to go get dinner since we were all too scared to go to the dining hall alone.
My year out of state was anything but what I imagined. I was a Political Science and International Relations major. I loved my classes, but over time, I got sick of the loud, opinionated people in my class, and realized I could never be a part of a career field that was so divided and aggressive. I dropped my major and became an "Undeclared", which basically means "I don't know what the hell I'm doing with my life". Over time, I despised going back to my dorm. I feel like an outcast and out of place. I felt alone. I found myself having no where to turn but my parents, and I would drive home almost every week to escape this whopping mistake I felt I had made. I eventually found friends and a place to belong but it came too little, too late. I had already made the decision to transfer home to Baltimore.
My first year at Towson was weird and exciting. I felt much more at home and peace at Towson. It was smaller, familiar and the people were more down to earth and friendly. I quickly found my place in my Elementary Education and Deaf Studies major-- two of the tightest knit majors on campus. I quickly made friends and fell in love with the walk-ability of the campus. However, at the time, I started experiencing intense panic attacks and anxiety. Long story short, I started failing classes. I decided to go part-time because managing college and mental health issues is tough. I didn't go out. I didn't want friends. I didn't care. This was a dark, dark period of my life.
To say I needed a break from "real life" was an understatement. I needed to get away. So I studied abroad that summer at Richmond University in London. And two of my best friends came with me. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was my first time out of the country and I could not have been more thrilled with the experience I had. It was exactly what I needed to pull me outside of my anxiety and my comfort zone.
I returned to school and everything was different. I started making more and more friends. GOOD friends. Lifelong friends. People who came to my wedding and celebrated with me. People who I clicked with. I started looking forward to class and spending time with these people. They gladly welcomed Brandon and I into their lives and were there every step of the way while we were planning our wedding in the middle of a semester. They've been there for me in practical, meaningful, selfless ways. My heart is forever grateful to them.
Once I got into the Education internship program, I started interning in schools. I got hands-on experience I needed and loved. I met teachers and students and principals and people who are like me and LOVE teaching. I again met people who made me laugh and cared about me. I again made friends. Not just any friends...GOOD friends. I've been through every class with some of these people for the last two years. They make my life better and happier. I love them.
And now, we're here, people. I'm graduating today and this college ride has been NOTHING like I expected it to be. I thought I would have graduated two years ago. I thought I would be graduating in blue and yellow in a different state with my roommate who became my best friend. But here, I am today. I'm in black and yellow, 15 minutes from where I lived all my life. I do have a roommate here today who is my best friend, but I just so happen to be married to him. Not only that, but today, I am surrounded by so many beautiful, beautiful people who love me and care for me that have walked with me through my college years.
And now, I get to say with confidence, that I am a teacher. I get to live out my DREAM JOB on a daily basis and get paid to do it. I adore everything about teaching. It gives me life. It fills me with joy. It gives me peace.
If I have learned one thing from college, it's this: College is NOT about what you do, or where you go, or what colors you wear when you graduate. It's about the people you have. And I think I have the best ones.