Time flies: thoughts on graduating a year early

Written on September 21st, 2017

In less than eight months I will be standing in front of thousands of people up on stage in Camp Randall Stadium.

There will be Badger Red everywhere. Parents will be cheering. Students will be ecstatic… but I still don’t know if my heart is going to break or soar.

When I arrived on campus and realized that I could easily graduate a full year early with both my major and a certificate, it seemed like a no-brainer. I jumped right in and planned out my schedule — 16-17 credit semesters really haven’t been too bad — and I didn’t give it much of a second thought.

Saving money and becoming financially stable earlier… who wouldn’t want that? I’m so fortunate that this opportunity was made available to me.

But to be honest, I’m also so sad.

These past two years have been some of the best of my life, and I can’t believe I only have one left. This year is already promising to be even more fantastic than the last — and while I’m unbelievably thankful for that, it also makes the thought of leaving even more bittersweet.

I have built amazing things here on campus. I’ve forged relationships I never thought I could find with friends who love me deeply and offer more grace than I’ve ever deserved. I’ve grown professionally from a young girl who didn’t even know what a blazer was into someone who can comfortably craft an interview outfit in ten minutes. More than anything, I have found the courage to change my life from a messy and directionless work-in-progress to a journey that at least has an end goal.

But while there are moments where I feel distinctly like an adult — when I’m shaking hands at the career fair or looking down at my left ring finger and remembering I have a wedding to plan — there are also times where I feel like a kindergartener on her first day of school.

I have packed so much into these past years because I’ve known that I don’t have as much time as everyone else. I’ve relentlessly built up my resume, I’ve worked multiple jobs on top of classes, I’ve stressed over my GPA and full-time prospects.

On the outside it looks like I have it pretty well together, but I promise that I don’t.

Sure, I’m confident that I can be an asset to a company in the near future. I can be professional and kind. I know that I am capable — but I also know I have so much left to learn.

Just last year my roommate had to teach me how to use our can opener. There’s a bulky door to our back lot in my room, and I still can’t open it by myself. When my clothing rod fell right out of my closet during the first week of classes, the first thing I did was put my hands on my head and call in my housemate to help me fix it.

At some level, I am inherently dependent. I am constantly running into things that I don’t know how to handle, but I am also constantly somehow figuring it out. I just can’t do it alone; out of everything I’ve learned here the biggest is how to ask for help… closely followed by the fact that I don’t need to know it all right now anyway.

Just because I have moments of inadequacy doesn’t mean I’m not ready to graduate and take on the world. We are all still learning; a common trend in my thinking and writing, this is a concept dear to my heart.

I’ve spent these past two years growing, and I’ll spend this one doing the same. But I have decided right now, today, that I am ready — and that’s what matters.

This year I am going to spend more time enjoying my campus with people I love and less time stressing about my resume. I am going to embrace every adventure Madison still has to offer. I will work and go to class and do my best… but I will also live. I will be a college student, just one more time.

I will miss this place like crazy. I will cherish every moment I have left during these next two semesters. And when the time comes to grab that diploma, I am going to walk out into that world with confidence and skills and goals… but more than anything, I’ll leave with memories.

On Wisconsin.