On Graduating Early

And then it hit like a bus. In the moment where friends merrily joked about bringing a “Claire-horn” to my graduation ceremony in a couple weeks, my gut clenched from the shock that all the plans I had devoted to over months were finally happening.

I had just walked away from my last meetings as part of the ASUO Executive and Organization Against Sexual Assault; student groups I’ve dedicated immeasurable hours and energy into. I wear my heart on my sleeve in everything I do– if I can’t invest my passion, the work isn’t meant for me. Running through the motions of my usual routine today left me incapable of understanding the depth of my feelings, but shutting the door to my bedroom opened up a myriad of anxieties.

I have never felt more love and joy anywhere besides Eugene. This quirky city has taught me innumerable lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. In a exponential skyrocketing manner, I have grown into my favorite version of myself (thus far– I hope). The people, places, highs and lows among them all have weaved a beautiful chapter in my life. It’s strange to observe the brink of a new period impeding on the horizon.

I chose this path, though. I could have finished college at the same pace as everyone else, but I pushed myself to graduate a year early. It wasn’t necessary, nor did it feel practical in some moments. I never have considered myself an overachiever; just ambitious with dreams to chase. It’s undoubtedly intimidating to swim on a different current, but I can’t deny my gut feeling to trust this flow.

The hardest part is leaving the people that I’ve grown to love. Eugene is a wild city, despite its calm demeanor. Various experiences have shaken my peers and I in ways that have shaped us into the people we are today. I couldn’t say I am the same person I was freshman year, much less even six months ago. Developing rapidly in this environment brings you close to those around you, and I don’t know what I would be like without this support system.

I tried to prolong my stay solely for my friends here, but there’s only so much time I can practically push back. With that in mind, I encourage my loved ones to not let time or distance diminish their relationships. Life is too short to lose value for all the beautiful connections you’ve made; we must savor them for years to come. I’m confident the fulfillment we’ve gained from each other can last us lifetimes. Thus, we shouldn’t discredit the notion that we may join each other for further adventures later on. Let’s make art again in Portland; meet me in Berlin; we’re coming for you, Seattle. This isn’t a good-bye, it’s a definite: “catch you later.” Next time, better than ever.

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