I want to tell you a funny story about how I fell down in Psych 111, knocked over a girl’s MacBook Air, and ran out of the classroom (if you’re reading this, I’m sorry), or about the time I cried outside Rafuse for hours because my first test grade taught me economics does not equate to skimming through a copy of “Freakonomics.” I want to tell you about the time I came home for Thanksgiving, and in the middle of the meal, my mom pointed out a hickey and that telling her it was from my neighbor only stressed her out more. Part of me wishes I could go over every detail, from the moment I drove up to Binghamton and realized the Old Union Starbucks will be the slowest wait, to where I am today, procrastinating a take-home final due tomorrow. But part of me realized that these memories will never be the same on paper, than they are within the person they have transformed me into.

I thought my college experience would be perfect. I believed my happiness would come from the guest lectures I would take advantage of, my straight As, First Fridays, friends that lacked drama, and other TV-esque things. Being that I willingly went to zero guest lectures, and those straight As are still a figment of my imagination, my happiness would only arrive once I was honest with myself.

College was not what I thought it would be. It wasn’t the flawless experience I had wished for, and the more I continued to fight that truth, the more I continued to struggle and find happiness. I knew what made me happy, but I wasn’t sure if it was acceptable. Would these experiences lead to success? It wasn’t the TV-esque things; in fact, it was everything but.

It was the moments I sat in the hallway with Ben around 2 a.m. as he tutored me until I gave up and would watch a lame YouTube video. The weekly CIW lunches with Jason, or late nights with Natalia and Radhi sharing stories until one of us would fall asleep. The nights spent in Tom and Marty’s, because how could we not be there to hear back-to-back Taylor Swift? The time Danielle and I walked to Basha’s because I needed to try Bing’s finest Lebanese cuisine. It was Sigma E-board meetings spent laughing, and the moment I met Ariel. After a 20:1 presentation when somebody would share their story, and being able to watch my residents aspire to achieve their goals. The time my anxiety got the best of me, and Jack let me sleep on his futon. The fight against sexual assault, and the fight for equality. Or maybe even the sleepless nights where my friend would come down from his room to rub my back until I fell asleep. It was it all.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but each person I met proved me wrong. Every day, the vision of what I wanted college to look like transformed into an experience greater than I could envision. The raw moments of happiness, anxiety, failure, love and success taught me more about myself than I was prepared to know. Whether you hurt me, challenged me, or gave me more love than I deserve, I thank you. It is you that allowed me to discover my strength, overcome the image of perfection, and live a raw, honest life.

I wish I could relive these moments, but I know my time here is gone. Binghamton, thank you for giving me everything I didn’t know I wanted. To all of you who have touched me, I wish you too are able to let go of the image of perfection, and embrace everything but.

Sarah Saad is a senior double-majoring in human development and women, gender and sexuality studies.