Finale. Fin. Finished. Finally. My final year comes to completion. But first, a look back down memory lane…
First Year was just excitement at every turn. Meeting people. Realizing that you’re in a place where being smart is cool… RELEASE THE INNER NERD. Frosh week- parties and people and general chaotic wonders. The first emotion filled crush of adulthood? And the first emotional crash that follows. Stress- school work. Buying textbooks- was just so fun getting lost meeting up with strangers on campus. Look at that little figure on that stage that the rest of my 1000 classmates are listening to. Getting that first <80% on a test and crying little puddles of shame. What’s a POSt?
Somehow got past all that and ended up in Second Year. What even happened that year? I only remember becoming legal and the rest is all a blur. More learning- starting to specialize but still only a number amongst the other numbers. Some of these other numbers are pretty cool though. Research, research, research- must find summer research. Wait, did I almost fail that course? Joining clubs, getting involved, having a social life because, fuck it all: I deserve to enjoy life. Carpe Diem, not YOLO- because reincarnation. Well there goes the GPA, but at least there are friends to go to the bar and cry it over with. Oh look- summer research! Working too much in lab, confused and stressed and WHY DOES SCIENCE NOT WORK?!
Now I know how it works here, Third Year will be the best. Fully specialized courses- profs now know my name. NO LONGER SIMPLY A NUMBER! Each roommate sits in individual room browsing facebook while the others assume she is doing some important work. Getting one roommate to help me sneak in a boy and to avoid awkward conversation with the other roommate. I have employable skills? Work-study open to all students? Money? Yes please. Then suddenly: THIRD YEAR CRISIS. Panic, worry, confusion, actively calling parents for the first time. What do you mean ‘what are you doing after undergrad’? There’s an ‘after undergrad?’. Wait, I need to start applying for more schooling in less than a year? Woe is me and my GPA. Oh my GPA, the numbers continue to define me.
At last, long long last, Fourth Year. I finished those applications. Backups have been set. Now at the top of the ladder in a club and in the undergrad hierarchy. Senioritis hits hard. Completely perfected art of BSing on a paper, except it’s not BS if refutable papers from high ranking journals back you up. Completely relaxed… kind of. Going to a pub night and knowing almost the entire room. Presenting research: it’s fun. Taking electives: it’s fun. Talking to roommate and realizing the lease ends in a month then tearing up: it’s not so fun. The end draws close, goodbyes must be said soon.
These past Four Years in summary then. Worked crazy hours and stressed in labs, but potential paper on the publishing line. Stresses due to piles of work done while sleep deprived, but doesn’t matter, got laid. Could have studied more, but that time was spent laughing with friends. My GPA isn’t Asian-premed-keener perfect, but why bother letting a number or a label define me? I regret nothing, because there’s nothing I wouldn’t have done. Unlike many of my peers, I refuse to stay for a fifth year. Yet unlike many more of my peers, I am not eager to leave. Right now I feel like I’ve done what I wanted to do in this phase of life and am ready to move on.
In these four years I’ve made friends for life and I’ve discovered myself as a person, not a number. My one parting advice to the undergrads of next year? Don’t let a number define you. Don’t let a label define you. You define yourself, so let there be no limitations. Know what you want in life and know how to get there. The rest is a matter of the same challenges and conflicts that life will always throw.