When I thought about what I wanted to write to sum up the last four years of my life, my mind was flooded with cliches. How I’ve grown, how this city and campus have become home and even, dare I say it, how I’ve “found myself.” Even though it’s cliche, it’s all true. I’ve had the most cookie-cutter college experience and loved every second of it.
I remember the day I got into Binghamton. I jumped around excitedly with my mom for about seven minutes until I remembered that I didn’t want to spend another four years surrounded by the same students I hated in high school. Fast-forward four years and I can’t imagine a more difficult goodbye.
I don’t think that 18-year-old me expected to do half the things I did in college — not all of which I’m proud of. I conquered fears big and small, like speaking in front of large crowds and peeing at the Rat. From joining a sorority to traveling across the world, I came out of my shell in more ways than one.
But you have to be careful that when you come out of your comfort zone you’re not just building a new one. It’s easy to test your boundaries when you’re a freshman. Everyone you meet is new (except for the 25 other students that followed you to college), and every experience is a first. However, the opportunities to grow don’t stop when you’re a sophomore or junior or senior. There will always be new people to meet, clubs to join and experiences to learn from.
Anyone can walk into a general interest meeting (GIM) the first week of freshman year, but it takes courage to seek out new opportunities as an upperclassman. You can’t grow from what’s comfortable and easy; make every semester feel like your first.
I was extremely lucky; my randomly assigned roommate was my instant best friend, and we still live together today. I didn’t have the initial struggle of finding friends or adjusting, and everything fell into place so naturally it’s almost scary. I’ll forever be grateful for the College-in-the-Woods Reslife team for pairing us together, and for all the other weird coincidences that led me to meet my best friends. For a while I thought the biggest lesson I learned in college was that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are, but who you’re with.
I was wrong. The most important lesson you can learn is how to be content and happy by yourself doing absolutely nothing. I thought that going abroad would teach me to be independent. And doing weird (admittedly not always sober) dares with my friends would help me become more spontaneous. You know what’s scarier than flying 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean or stealing jack-o’-lanterns from frat porches? Eating by yourself at C4. Spending the 12-minute bus ride to campus in silence when you forgot your comfort blanket of an iPhone at home. Sitting in your room, alone, on a Wednesday at 2 p.m. when all your friends are in class.
While your professors, friends, internships and clubs will help you in many ways, don’t underestimate the value and power of the time you’ll spend alone.
To everyone I’ve met at Binghamton, thank you for being a part of my journey in college. Whether we just awkwardly smile when we pass in Bartle or you’re one of the lucky handful that gets my nonstop neurotic texts daily, thank you for helping to shape who I am today.
Rebecca Klar is a senior majoring in English.