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  It really was. Since preschool I’ve been having my schedule set, I knew exactly what was to be done the days following, precisely what was expected of me and of course one of the things most students dread, the completion of homework. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I will miss homework, I will miss studying for midterms and having all-nighters (could never help not doing them) on Finals Week.

It’s not so bad I guess, I will continue to have exams and I am planning to go back as soon as I can. So much happened, and by so much I mean SO MUCH. I think that doesn’t even cut it, my life turned around completely and its only about to keep turning with surprises at every corner.

It was during Finals Week that I decided to apply for grad school, the application was actually all ready all I needed was to push that “Done” button and send it away but a lot happened. Long story short I opted to not apply, I decided it was time to start my life because truth is I’m not getting any younger.

Funny how things turned out because on graduation I got the chance to talk to one of my professors, one that knew me best and as he shook my hand he told me he hoped to see me in the Fall because there was no way I would not get into the program. With the chair backing me up as well (another one of my favorite professors who never gave up on me), and two others, my GPA, involvement and “enthusiasm to face challenges” all I had to do was say “Yes, lets do this”.

Thing is, I had made my decision a few days earlier that life was going to take me somewhere else for a while. As soon as my professor said that I looked up and thought how the Universe was throwing so much at me. Criticized for my decision I was, quite a lot actually by family and friends. How could I have a foot in grad school and back out? Like I said, I’m not getting any younger.

As I walked up the path that I walked so many times before, for years I realized it was the last time I would hopefully just for the few months to come. I said farewell to the many bright minds that amazed me every day, to the professors that didn’t give up on me and the buildings that housed my very thoughts. It was my second home for five years, the place that saw me grow. Some say graduating from college is the end of an era, and you know what? It is.

Thank you, Universe.

Smile, be thankful for the opportunities you take and those you leave behind.

 Five years ago my thoughts were so much different from today. No surprise there since a lot has changed but when I look at old pictures of myself I smile because if I could go back in time to tell myself something, well I wouldn’t. Most of my life I have been school oriented. When I started college my goal was to prove people wrong, yeah not the best goal to have. My motivations were all in the wrong place, and I had a lot of growth ahead of me. I’ve yet so much to learn, so much room for improvement and I already know to expect many changes ahead. Ah, life sure can turn one’s life around.

Graduation is six weeks away, so basically just around the corner. It hadn’t hit me until I went to get my cap and gown and I laid it down on my bed. Sleepless nights, many times crying over physics and calculus problems, many sweet eureka moments that literally made me skip my way to class. It was in college that I found my addiction to coffee, a drink I swore to dislike, just one of the many things I gave a try that I said I never would. After all that and more there I was standing before what I had worked so hard these last couple of years.

What’s next? A big question mark. Graduate school, the beginning of my own family, a far away adventure, a little of all? If you had asked me five years ago what my plans would be today I would’ve said without a doubt, Grad school. Now, I feel like my career has gone one level down on my priority list. For the first time I’m actually excited about wanting to start a family, quite the opposite thought that I had five years ago. I used to shiver at the thought of having kids of my own, my career was the only kid I ever wanted. Me have kids? You’re crazy!

Changes, changes all over the place. I don’t know where I’ll be next year, let along a few months but I can tell you that I’ve enjoyed the journey this far. I have a lot of growth ahead of me, more obstacles to overcome, and more changes coming up. Am I excited? I am!

Smile, take some time to look at your own journey in life. 

I remember that when I was little and there were so many things that I didn’t understood so I made up my own explanations, my own reasons to why things happened the way they did. I never understood why some people were the way they were, or why they would treat me they way they did. Over the years I made countless excuses for them not realizing that I was setting myself to a state of denial instead of looking at things for what they really were.

Bottom line is we won’t please everyone we meet. Unfortunately, that also includes family, people that we unconditionally love, people that won’t feel the same way about us. When we’re little our eyes see the world with a lens of innocence, time goes by so slow, we feel free, and careless. As we grow older we begin to see things by how they really are, and we realize that there’s so much more out there than we ever imagined. As children, some of us are lucky enough to have not experienced discrimination of any kind, our world was sugar coated.

What about the kids who are not as privileged? Children that have been: raped, molested, discriminated, abused, mistreated, and stayed in silence. A friend of mine told me I was privileged for knowing what it meant to love without fear. She was raped when she was ten years old by a family member. Another friend told me how he is always weary of visiting friends because when he was little he was discriminated by his friend’s parents for being African-American. Similar stories went on and on, and as I listened to every one of those stories I thought: how come I never heard any of this when I was little? These people are my friends, my peers. The people I see everyday with a smile on their face, and I was so angry and I felt so impotent.

New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries”, and that’s when innocence is gone. Is it better to live in a state of innocence where the world is sugar coated? Or in a world where you see things for what they really are? I prefer to notice the stripes, and the dirt on my fries, sure there are things I miss of those “good ol’ days” but I wouldn’t want to go back.

Some people will smile while hurting inside, while the world remains unaware. Believe it or not, some people are very unaware of what is going on around them, let alone in the world. There are many vile people in this world, but don’t forget that there’s also good hearted people out there willing to lend a helping hand.

Smile, we are the hope of tomorrow.

   I’m very excited to say 2011 was by far the best year in personal growth I’ve had in my whole life. I not only learned so much about myself, but I found the courage to take many risks, I never felt more alive. Now that 2011 is gone there is a lot of things to take care of in this new year.

First, I’m more than excited to announce that next weekend marks the beginning of the end of a major chapter in my life: my life as an undergraduate student. Graduation is just around the corner, this June to be precise and I have many major decisions to make in the following weeks. I feel that this upcoming weekend will bring me closure and help me with the decisions I am about to make. This is the first year I start knowing absolutely nothing of what will happen, practically no plans made!

I guess you can say I am winging the first half of this year and see where I end up in the next couple of months. I am no longer scared of what may come next, if I stay to pursue graduate studies or if I end up living alone in a foreign country, I will welcome any change that comes my way. This last year I learned that if I don’t take risks I’ll never know where I can get to in life.

“If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind, If you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind.”

Arfa Karim Randhawa (R.I.P.)

May this year be greater than last, may we all learn from our past. Here’s to the future, here’s to the start of a new era.

Smile, the future is ahead of us.

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