WOW. The last week has been a whirlwind of non-stop talking, hugs and kisses and congratulations, endless parties, a lot eating and drinking, and ton of really bad dancing. Last Wednesday I finished the last final of my undergraduate career, Friday (the 13th appropriately) I graduated with my BS in biomedical science and chemistry, I'm a nationally registered EMT, I graduated with many of my life-long best friends, I got to accept flowers and give my mom a hug on stage upon receiving my diploma in front of the other 1,500 College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences students--I'd like to tell you that my graduation was better than yours but I don't want to rub it in.
Here we are a week later, and even though the weekend's festivities should be a reminder that I graduated from college, I just feel like it's a normal summer break. I'm sure it will set in come the last Thursday in August when I don't saunter down the pedway of north campus towards BIO room 265. Now, in case you were wondering, "what's next," or "what are you going to do?" here's the answer: I am going to race my bike. I am going to travel. I am going to continue working at the hospital for my wonderful boss. I am not going to medical school (right now). I am not going to grad school (right now). I will indeed be returning to the system of higher education, but not for at least a year. Why? Because I have no idea what I want to do besides ride my bike and have a shit ton of fun. And I'm pretty sure you can't go to medical school and not be 100% sure you want to be there.
I never changed my major in college. I declared biomed and chemistry my freshman year and never looked back. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I was interested in almost all of my classes, and until the end of my junior year I was damn sure I was going to medical school. Then I took an ecology class and thought maybe I could do a masters in environmental science or something, then I took some really interesting polysci classes and thought that maybe I should do a masters in IR and polysci, or take my Bar, then I thought maybe I should get my MBA. All of those sounded fun and appealing to me and that's when I realized I have no idea what I want to do. And I don't think we are supposed to know exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives when we graduate from college--after all, most of us are in our EARLY twenties, we are naive, and we still think we are all meant to do great things and change the world...
In the last months of my undergrad I cried to my mom numerous times because I was tired, and stressed, and pissed off I didn't have enough time to ride and workout as much as I wanted. I was freaking out because I was graduating from college and I felt like I had 30 days to grow all the way up and become a "real" adult. I was frustrated because I felt like I missed something along the way because I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And my mom, who is the most badass, put together, motivated woman I have ever known, looked at me and told me this: you don't have to come out of school knowing what you're doing with the rest of your life. College is supposed to further your education, spark your interests, and prepare you for the rest of life. It's supposed to teach you time management, how to juggle life, how to handle stress, and solve problems. Those were welcome words to hear from my mom.
Needless to say, college did teach me all of the aforementioned lessons, plus many more. Upon finishing our pathology final, Kierstan and I promptly walked to Criollo and began consuming celebratory margs and discussing everything we have learned in the last four years. I'll spare you all the ones that are not appropriate for your sensitive ears... here they are in no particular order.
1. Go to as many concerts as you can. Even if you have shit due the next day. Go. You'll still pass genetics, and immunology, and physics.
2. "Shit ton" is a metric unit--typically used when measuring amounts of dangerous chemicals.
3. People don't get smarter just because they are in college, or because they made it to a 400 level class, or because they are your professor.
4. You can definitely write a kickass capstone paper in 24 hours. If you don't sleep.
5. It takes a lot more effort to fail a class than it does to pass with a B.
6. Unless you only go 8 times in a semester and lost 10% for attendance. Then you get a C.
7. Online classes always seem like a good idea and like they will be easy--but remember that you hate discussion boards and don't care about art history up to 1200 BC.
8. Sleep and exercise are way more important than your homework.
9. It's amazing that amount of material you can learn in the 6 hours before the test.
10. If you actually want to learn things and not be distracted during class, don't take classes with your best friend, don't bring your computer and don't look at Pinkbike and Buzzfeed the whole time. PRINT THE POWERPOINT AND BRING IT TO CLASS.
11. Be careful who you answer the door for in your underwear. You think it's just your girlfriend, but it turns out she brought two random guys with her.
12. A chocolate milk and Tiger's Milk can get you home from Phoenix at any time of the night.
13. The Rendezvous makes their whiskey chai strong at all hours of the day. Don't drink one and then go meet with your lab TA.
14. Wine is very good for the soul.
15. Wine is very bad for your motivation and decision-making capabilities.
16. The whole "study for 3 hours for every credit hour a class is worth" thing is BS.
17. The people that act like know-it-alls spend way too much time studying and not enough time having fun.
18. Don't waste your time with shitty people. Don't waste your time on something you're not interested in.
19. Walk around with your chin up and your eyes forward.
20. The only person you need to impress is yourself.
21. Be classy. Respect yourself.
23. Be nice. Try not to judge too much. Give the guy on the corner a gift card or your leftovers or some spare cash or some dog food. Donate money to something you believe in.
24. Very few people are good at dancing so let your freak flag fly. Whiskey or tequila helps.
25. Your parents are the best people to cry to when you're freaking out.
26. Eat well. Fuel yourself well. Don't eat shit, literally or figuratively. It's really not that hard or expensive. Learn to cook.
27. You'll have your heart broken, and then you'll look back and wonder, "WTF was I thinking?" Because you're tough, and you deserve the best.
28. Make memories. Take a lot of pictures.
29. Make traditions. Have a "family dinner" once a week. Have a breakfast once a week. Have a drink night.
30. Find something you are passionate about and dive head first.
To this point, all of these have been pretty silly, but not unimportant, lessons. Here are the 5 most important things I've learned.
1. I graduated with my best friends. I took almost every single class with my very best friend. I had friends and parents that supported me the whole time. If you're as lucky as I am, realize it and appreciate it every single day.
2. Change is inevitable. One day, your friends will decide that they are moving to Europe, or Montana, or Seattle, and it's going to break your heart and you'll want to do everything you can to stop them--but you won't because you want them to go do what they love and explore the world and life. You will miss them every single day, but they'll come back to visit and nothing will be different.
3. You can fucking do it. I managed to ski race and live in Colorado my freshman year of college. Then I picked up a totally new sport and raced bikes professionally throughout college, I traveled and did well and missed a lot of school. I managed my time, I got everything done, I was nice to my professors, and I graduated with a 3.7 GPA.
4. It's okay to have no idea what you want to do. Most of the people that think they know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives probably don't really know, and the few that truly do are special. Don't be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, or to change your mind. You gotta learn somehow.
5. Time flies. It's the most cliche thing I've written but it's the truth. The last four years seem like they went faster than any of the previous years. We are all getting older and we don't know how long we have. Do what makes you happy and make sure the people you love know it.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!