Editors note: due to a procedural error, this story was written on April 9, 2015, but not published until recently. We apologize for any confusion.
Art by Sacha Irick
I’ve loved my college experience. I fell in love with Pepperdine the first time I stepped foot on this campus, and I have never once regretted coming here. I have done well academically, I have countless wonderful memories with good people and I’ve gained so much invaluable experience in all aspects of life.
But my college experience wasn’t perfect, and I deeply regret some of the choices I’ve made and the opportunities I’ve missed.
People laugh at me when I express that: I’m about to graduate a year early as editor-in-chief of an award-winning newspaper and a double major on track to receive summa or magna cum laude honors. That’s great, and I’m so thankful. But I sacrificed a lot to be able to say that, and I sometimes wonder if it was worth it.
While in college, I prioritized my GPA and saving money. Those two things are constantly at the forefront of my mind, and they affect virtually every decision I’ve made in the past three years. In some ways, that’s been good: I’m going to be able to pursue grad school, I won’t be riddled with too many student loans, I’ve proven myself to be responsible and reliable to future employers, and I’ve learned time management and organizational skills.
On paper, I’ve gotten everything right. But I’ve missed out on so much.
I’ve let close friends slip between my fingers because I kept putting off staying in touch, as if their friendship was an assignment. I’ve let opportunities for new friends pass me by because, “If I barely have time for old friends, I definitely don’t have time for new ones.” I haven’t invested the time and energy to grow casual acquaintanceships into profound friendships.
I’ve passed up Project Serve for two years because I knew I would have too much to do over spring break. I’ve said no to adventures just because I was worried about how much it would cost. I haven’t taken any of the for-no-reason classes I planned to take when I looked through the academic catalog before I even arrived for NSO, because I was afraid of wasting time. Even when I was abroad in Madrid for the summer, I skipped restaurants occasionally and missed horseback riding because I felt like I couldn’t afford such extravagances.
I wish I’d stayed up later talking to friends. I wish I’d skipped a few classes once in a while (and not felt guilty for it the whole time). I wish I hadn’t just gone to the coffeehouses for the coffee. I wish I hadn’t passed up so many dorm activities. I wish I’d shown up at more people’s doors with a plate of cookies and some time to spare.
In a month and a half, all I’ll have left of my undergraduate experience is the memories I chose to make. I have a lot of unforgettable ones. But I have none that will keep my grandchildren on the edge of their seats when I’m old and gray. I’ve made amazing friends, but there are too many who will only remember me in 10 years as an obscure Facebook friend.
I will always think of my college years fondly, but if I had a chance to do it over, I would take it in a heartbeat. All I can do now is learn from my mistakes and flaws and grow from them.
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