As I prepare for my senior year at UC Berkeley, I find myself in a state of self-reflection. I look back at my past years, all the things I’ve experienced and think about how they’ve all led me to where I am now. As I approach my last year of undergrad, I’m filled with excitement, angst, nerves, gratitude and every emotion I could imagine.
I never expected to end up at UC Berkeley. It seemed like a far-fetched dream as a first-generation, low-income student with not the best high school grades. Seeing myself here now, ready to graduate within the next year, feels surreal. I’ve proved something not only to those around me, but to myself as well. In these past few years, I’ve shown myself the strength and determination I’ve had hidden within myself all along.
Since arriving at UC Berkeley, I was trampled with the realization that I was near the end of my academic career. For the longest time, I found myself suffocated by the anxieties of what would follow after graduation. I would numb my mind with the stress of wondering what my purpose would be after finishing my education — something that’s challenging when all I’ve known for a vast majority of my life is being a student. These anxieties would keep me from enjoying the time I had left at UC Berkeley, but they overcame my mind nonetheless.
I still often feel these stresses when I’m at my lowest, but it wasn’t until I started focusing on the things I loved that they subsided. I want to fill my senior year with the things I adore doing and make the most out of them. Whether it’s writing for the Daily Clog, reading sappy romance books, blasting my favorite music in my room or running down the Berkeley streets with my best friends — I want to fill my final year with the memories I know I’ll hold onto forever.
When I think about my future now, I tell myself, “So long as I’m doing something I love, and am surrounded by the people I care about, I’ll be okay.” I’ll still have moments of anxiety, stress and dread — as the best of us do — but I know that this is truly the beginning of what my life is going to become next. Happiness and success are my ultimate goals and starting this year, my definition of the two words will intertwine with one another.
Regardless of how things may turn out, I will always have UC Berkeley to thank for how it has shaped my life so far. It has given me the kindest friends, warmest memories and happiest moments. Even when senior year is over — and I’ve officially achieved “alumna” status — I will always be a Golden Bear.