Five years ago, an eager high school senior rapidly applied to every college within 50 miles of her hometown. She was unsure of most everything in her life: where she wanted to live, what sports she enjoyed playing, her talents and even her educational interests. With careful consideration, she chose a college. This was the year of eagerness.

Four years ago, she unhappily sat in her college dorm. It was freshman year. She hastily immersed herself in every club, athletic team or social circle that even somewhat appealed to her. At the time, she was thankful for these experiences to occupy her slow moving days. Knowing in her heart something did not feel right, she adjusted. This was the year of coping.

Three years ago, a starry-eyed East Coast kid flew nearly 3,000 miles to a campus she had never visited prior to move-in day. She knew not a single soul. It was invigorating — a fresh start in a place that already felt like home. It was sophomore year. She found friendship, love and adventure. She rediscovered old passions, stumbled upon new ones and began to foster her independence. All the while experiencing loss, stress and the absence of comfort. This was the year of learning.

Two years ago she grappled with the impossibility of already being a junior in college. Life fluctuated as she attempted to balance two jobs, an internship, extracurricular clubs, school work, friends, family and fun. Things were becoming real, challenging — she felt the impending responsibilities of adulthood consume her. By testing her personal limits, she quickly discovered what she was capable of. Time-management with a side of “treat yourself” was the mantra for this year. This was the year of self-discovery.

One year ago, she begrudgingly entered a classroom at 9 a.m., already calculating how many classes she can afford to skip without it negatively impacting her grade. Around every corner, well-meaning individuals asked, “What are your plans post-graduation?” She reluctantly shrugged her shoulders and mumbled a narrative about her interests. She pondered whether success in college is only defined by others in terms of graduate school, dream jobs or a year of traveling the world. Her ease and confidence carried her through the year as she discovered a deeper love for herself, her passions and her purpose. Time quickly passed as she immersed herself in these elements. She was still unsure of everything in her life, much like her five-year ago self, but this time she was okay with that. This was the year of thriving.

Now, I graduate. To write this column, I originally grappled with the idea of dispensing words of wisdom to my younger peers only to realize that they probably would not listen. I never did. For a lesson to truly resonate with someone, I believe they have to experience it for themselves. I have decided the next best thing is sharing my own personal journey. It is my hope you got something from this, even if it was just a good laugh.

My journey was not linear, and getting to where I am today was not easy. It shouldn’t be, and I am sure yours will be no walk in the park either. Do not expect it to be, and when it isn’t, do not be frustrated.

All I can suggest is that along the way you stop, take a minute to “smell the roses” as they say and move forward. Laugh long and hard. Do not take yourself too seriously. Pull all-nighters, binge watch your favorite shows, eat your favorite foods, make mistakes and find your passions. Fearlessly attack these passions.

Take all the good and all the bad you experience on this journey and love it.

 This is the opinion of Kayla Brogan, a senior communications studies major from Boston, Massachusetts. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to editor@theloyolan.com.

Kayla is a senior communications studies major from Boston, Massachusetts. She enjoys incessant sarcasm and inappropriate use of verb tense. When given the opportunity, she will rant about dogs for two hours straight.

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