Last weekend, I traded in my last ever undergraduate final for an overpriced matching cap and gown. I. have. officially. graduated.
I'm currently in South Korea sweating profusely as I write this recap in what seems to be like 1000% humidity. I could say that I've had a week to process this huge milestone in my life, but truth be told I was having a blast adventuring around Japan for me to even notice this change (more on that later). Now that I'm back in the motherland, I've a few nights to think about it so here we go...
Senior year probably went by the fastest among the four total years of college. As always, I kept myself busy with work, internships, and extracurriculars. I managed to hold down my two positions as President of the Undergraduate Communication Society and as Editor-in-Chief (again) of Trend Magazine all while attempting to reach my goal of straight A's for my last year (which I achieved by the way, PTL). I wrapped up an amazing year at my internship with Allied Integrated Marketing and an irreplaceable three years at CollegeFashionista. I even had the opportunity to visit the CF office in person during my spring break in NY! After my fourth anniversary (yes I've been working since freshman year) at Geisel Library, I said a final goodbye to my wonderful boss and coworkers and we even had my favorite chicken wing party to celebrate.
All this to say, that although I kept myself very busy trying to finish strong, I was still struggling to grasp the reality of ending this enormous chapter of life and being forced into a new, much scarier one. College had taught me a lot...A LOT. I learned more about my faith--who God is and what He truly means to me. I learned more of what I was capable of. I learned how much being empathetic could change my relationship with just about everyone. I learned how to save money. I learned how to manage a team--realizing not everyone may have the same level of passion as I might (and being OK with that). Most importantly, I discovered more of who I am. They say college is the time for you to reflect on yourself and find your own identity and I truly believe the past four years have allowed me to do that. I realized that my feelings matter and that emotional labor is something that should be balanced between given and received. I was able to think more inclusively, eagerly learning about others' perspectives and figuring out where my place was among them. I dealt with many emotions and even mental instability I didn't even know I was capable of experiencing and then realizing that bottling it all in didn't help anybody (myself especially). I was challenged in my leadership abilities and am thankful for my teams, coworkers, and staff for being patient with them.
Basically, I just learned so much these past four years and I suppose this fear of graduating stemmed from this realization. Here I was wondering what the heck this new vaguely familiar adult world would teach me and ultimately mold me into the twenty-something year old I'd become. I had already experienced some of the most drastic changes in my personal life that I guess I was scared of what drastic changes the post-grad life would bring. How will all my relationships change? What will NOT going to school and NOT having a job (something I've had for the past decade of my life) feel like? How will my personality change? Will I like the person I'm becoming?
Thankfully, my many questions were alleviated during my last quarter. I made it a priority to reach out to post-grad friends and professionals who gave me amazing advice and genuinely seemed like they cared for me and my future. I learned so much about their experiences and came to the conclusion that A.) traveling right after graduating is a must if you have the ability to and B.) timing is everything even if you can't control it. I made new friends and actually found a group of people who share the same vision as me for the Asian American film/entertainment community (a group I never thought I'd find so close to me). I spent time with people who were supportive and motivating. I tried not to be so pessimistic all the time and I even offered up my two-cents for any underclassmen who were willing to hear my story and how much college had affected me for the better.
Fast forward a little bit and I'm walking down stage at commencement feeling grateful for the opportunity to be the first-generation college graduate of my family (graduating with honors no less!) and being eternally indebted to my wonderful immigrant parents who've sacrificed their entire lives to come to this country and dealt with racism, classism, and language barriers for my brother and I to have the most fulfilled life a first-gen Korean American could possibly have. Thank you mom and dad, this one's for you.
Currently, I am waiting back to hear for a job opportunity and am still applying to many more. Post-grad life so far has been nothing short of amazing but that's probably due to the fact that I just got back from Japan and I'm chillin' in Korea for the next month and a half. Although I have no idea what God has in store for me, I am confident that the knowledge I've gained and the relationships I've made throughout college has equipped me to take on whatever life may bring.
So bring it on world, BRING.IT.ONNNN.
As always, thanks for reading.