Max Samson/Editorial Artist

In high school, my top priority was to be as perfect as possible. I needed to have the perfect grades, make the most money and keep all of my shit together in order to prepare myself for my perfect future life.

I loved that word. Perfect.

The reality of my life was much messier than I was willing to let myself believe. I lived with my dad and two sisters in a stressful environment. While my friends had stable home lives, mine was a little more chaotic. I didn’t know how to respond, so I simply worked to make my life as perfect as those around me.

When I involuntarily chose to go to Binghamton University, I felt like I had failed in my quest for perfection. No private school had thought I was worthy of a scholarship, so I was banished to western New York with all the other angry 18-year-olds who were in the same situation.

Freshman year was a nightmare. That’s the only way I can describe it. I made wonderful friends, but they transferred home, and I cried every day that summer, dreading my inevitable return.

But something changed sophomore year. I began to make friends with new people, people who had chaotic home lives, too. People who were scarred by their pasts, but unwilling to let it affect their vision of the future or who they were in that moment.

For the first time, I learned how to stop complying with the conservative social values I had grown up with and allowed myself to have opinions and feelings without fear of what others might think. I’m still working out the kinks, but I’m an entirely different person now than I was when I set foot on this campus three and a half years ago.

Pipe Dream helped me with all of that. It taught me how to stand up for myself and introduced me to people I would never have been friends with outside the walls of our office basement.

Now, as I leave Binghamton, I’m not searching for perfection anymore. Sure, it’s a nice concept, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to have a perfect, normal life. I’m going to live an unsettled and chaotic life, but honestly, I wouldn’t be happy any other way.

College is tricky, and difficult, and makes you question every part of your inner soul, but in the end, it spits you out a better person than you ever could have envisioned.

And now for a couple of shoutouts:

Sam and Evan — Thanks for putting up with me, even when we all knew I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. I’ve never had brothers before, but you’ve taught me that maybe they aren’t that bad.

Colin and Noah — You’ve listened to a lot of my shit and honestly, that’s more than I could ever ask. Thanks for being amazing friends even when I probably didn’t deserve it.

Kim — We bonded over an impossible class sophomore year, and you may think that I was the one holding you afloat during microeconomics, but honestly, you were the one helping me. I needed a friend like you more than I even knew at the time, and you helped me more than I can ever really tell you.

Rebecca — I’m going to cry; can we do this drunk? Thank you for making me learn how to say what I really wanted instead of being a complacent bitch. It’s changed me for the better. You’ve kept me humble, but you’ve also taught me that it’s OK to be messed up, and I think that’s the most important lesson I learned in college, if not in life.

To the rest of the Pipe Dream staff — have fun this year, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the paper!

Grace Palumbo is a senior double-majoring in business administration and history. She is an assistant sports editor.