I originally planned on writing this entry last Wednesday, the day I finished my first year of college. However, I’ve been saturated with so many emotions from the last few days that there was no possible way for me to write objectively about my first year as university student. Now that my life has calmed down and my thoughts have cleared, I can begin.
I’m assuming that most people know of the basic differences between college and high school on both academic and social levels. So instead of stating the obvious—yes, college is a lot busier—I want to discuss what exactly has kept me busy this past year.
The work has been plentiful. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed all the classes I took, but for the ones that I did enjoy, I have held on to their lessons to show for it. I don’t want to sugar coat anything, however. School work is still stressful. Even with the classes that I loved, English and Ethnic Studies in particular, I still found myself apathetic and drowsy, which is my natural response to stressful situations. But unlike high school, when I would just rest until my stress lifted overtime, I actually made a proactive effort to alleviate the weight of assignments by spending time with incredible people in parts of San Francisco where I felt far from the bleakness of work.
The friendships I’ve made in college are, without a doubt, healing and edifying. I promised myself last summer that I would be more conscious about the people I would let in my life. I think that’s a common theme for most young adults entering a new setting: finding new people that are better than the ones in high school or similar to those good ones back home. Of course, I don’t view strangers as prospects for my wellbeing, but I’ve learned overtime that even decent people can present uncomfortable situations if they don’t share the same values on friendships or basic human rights. I won’t go too far on my politics, but I’m turned off by blatant hateful isms.
I understand the value of individualism. Society reminds me consistently how self-reliance is an integral skill to have in the world we live in; I cannot simply go about life expecting things from people all the time and I don’t and never will. Sometimes, however, you meet people who unintentionally, but naturally, build a safe space within a friendship. These people are the ones you can sit next to in silence without feeling the need to fill the void with hallow words. In fact, there is no void, just assured comfort. When I’m stressed with the overwhelming sense of responsibility, I tend to remain quiet and can only muster up meager responses. With this kind of friendship, despite my tired presence, I’m still accompanied with patience and empathy. Because of their initial selflessness, it’s instinctive to mirror their devotion. These are the types of people to keep. They bring the best qualities out of you and make them stronger.
San Francisco wasn’t always my favorite place to be. Prior to my college experience, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, and Fisherman’s Wharf were the only places I have seen, the only places where my family would take me. To be honest, I hated trips to San Francisco. They were full tedious moments in traffic, sore cheeks (from smiling) in front of the bridge, and arguments with my dad about where we should eat. Things are different now, according to my Yelp account. I go to Los Coyotes to revel in the goodness that is Mexican cuisine. I go to Ocean Beach and walk along the shore of the Pacific Ocean with new close friends. And if there aren’t any butt-naked, old pink men, I go to Baker Beach to climb boulders to get a better view of the bridge. Not too far from the ocean is the best boba place I’ve ever had. I try get there before the kids from the nearby high school are dismissed. They always make me think of how different life must be growing up in the city. I try to imagine how I would’ve turned out as an inner-city kid. I can see myself honing my social awareness from the diversity and culture that’s inherent in a place like San Francisco. All of these thoughts while I’m waiting in line for a strawberry rose milk tea with honey boba.
Earlier this month, I turned twenty-years-old. It took me a while to accept the fact that I’m no longer a teenager. Then I realized, I’m not losing anything just for facing the inevitable. With that said, I refuse to accept any societal definition of what it is to be in my twenties. I’ll continue to live my life, unapologetically learning from my mistakes. That’s what I was really afraid of when I was approaching the big two ‘o: being expected to have reached a level of maturity and life experiences that I didn’t have yet. In reality, nothing just happens. The knowledge and experiences I’ve gained overtime is due to the fact that I went out there and lived it. I’m slowly letting go of the notion that I should be living a certain way because of my age, especially as a youth. I feel like a lot of this frustration was from comparing myself to peers who are living out the ideal American teenage life—whatever that is. For some strange reason, I thought I was letting go of something as I grew out of my teenage but realistically, I still have as many opportunities as I did when I was nineteen. If I’m being completely honest, the only real loss about not being a teenager is losing the privilege of using my young age as an excuse for any recklessness that I may do, but that’s an issue for a different entry.
I have three more years to go then I have more of my life to live. One thing I can take away from this past year is a lesson I’ve learned from commuting back and forth on Bart. Just like living an hour and half away from campus, I learned that life is full of in-betweens. There are places I came from and destinations I’m headed to, but I always need to remind myself to make the most of the middle. I came from beautiful, beautiful Pilipino parents who traveled across the ocean to set a stable life for me. They raised me with traditional Christian values and clothed me with warm-colored love they saw best fit. Now, I’m navigating through life on my own terms. While on my trip to wherever I decide to go, I may bare myself to new experiences, and pick things up I can boldly wear around my neck. In between to where I was and to where I’ll be, whether my journey takes three years or ten, I want make sure I get something out of every stop along the way.