When I started my freshman year at Binghamton University, I thought I had it all figured out. I knew what was moral, what was logical and what was right. After four years, I can safely say that I could not have been more wrong.

In my senior year of high school, and the summer going into college, I was obsessed with logic. This led to many debates and arguments, both with my friends and family. After every conversation, I came out thinking I was right. In my freshman year, my friend group made it incredibly clear very early that the way I argued was obnoxious, and that it made them not want to converse with me. To Neal, AJ, Dustin and Luke: that conversation started a change in me that has shaped the person I am today. While I still love to debate, and try to apply logic when I can, that conversation taught me a very important lesson — it’s OK to be wrong.

Allowing myself to be wrong and my opinions to change has had a tremendous impact on my life over the past four years. As someone with anxiety, a lack of control is always something that has terrified me. This couldn’t have been more true going into college. To a certain extent, I think everyone feels this — you’re living on your own for the first time, hours away from your family and friends, and are thrust into a completely unfamiliar environment where your responsibilities solely fall on you. To me, this new environment was terrifying. My solution to this problem was simply to not change. I was against going out, drinking or pretty much doing anything that I wasn’t already comfortable doing. Because my environment was uncomfortable already, I refused to step out of my comfort zone in what I did or thought. The first time I did go out, I went in with the expectation that I wouldn’t like the experience, and of course, ended up not enjoying it. With that one experience out of the way, I felt I could justify to myself that exiting my comfort zone wasn’t worth it, and I followed that mode of thinking for months.

The day that everything changed for me was a night in which I was going to stay in, but all my friends were debating going out or not. The scene was like something out of a sitcom, with people going around and saying “I’ll go if he goes,” and not a single person actually committing to going. For a reason I still don’t know, I got out of my chair and said “what if I go?” That night, I went in with an open mind and no expectations, and ended up having a fantastic time. The party itself was unimportant, as is partying in general. What was important for me was abandoning total control of the situation. This led to me become comfortable in letting go, and not desperately clinging to what little control I had.

Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations led me to join Pipe Dream, make so many new friends and meet my girlfriend. Freshman year Riccardo would never have gone to a GIM and asked questions, let alone apply for two content sections. He would never have agreed to go on a spontaneous road trip to Ithaca and would never have felt comfortable going to the gym. Without a doubt, I would have never ever asked someone out before analyzing the situation a million times. Over the past four years, letting go has allowed me to experience all of these things and so much more. It has led to so many friendships and incredible memories and has fundamentally changed who I am. It has also led to terrible memories, ended friendships and caused hardships in my life — and that’s okay.

Fundamentally, not exiting your comfort zone is due to fear. Fear of what might happen, what people might think and what might go wrong. As someone who has struggled with letting go, the bad things absolutely do happen. People betray you, people hurt you and some people just don’t like you, no matter how hard you try. Understanding and accepting that was incredibly important for me. Looking back over these four years, I definitely remember some of these negative experiences. However, the ones from a couple years ago are starting to fade. The good memories, the real friendships and the experiences I’ve had haven’t faded at all. I’m not sure that they ever will. I feel it would be irresponsible to not say that letting go has its limits, and everyone has to individually decide how far out of their comfort zone they want to venture — it’s incredibly important to be safe. Outside of that, get out there and try new things. College is a time to make memories and experience things you haven’t experienced before — all you have to do is let go a little.

To my parents and my sister, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity and supporting me throughout it. It means the world to me, and it’s made me who I am today. To my family in Italy, grazie mille, non ce l’avrei fatta senza di voi.

To Ryan, thank you for being the best friend I could ever ask for, always having my back and being there for me whenever I needed it.

To CJ, thank you for helping me through the insane first years of college and being the older brother that I needed when I felt alone in an unfamiliar environment.

To Sam and Jack, thank you for all the memories, and I can’t wait to make more with you guys. While I’ve known you all for different periods of time, I think we have had incredible experiences as a group, but also individually. I can’t wait to add to that in the future.

To AJ, Dustin, Luke and Neal, I am so, so grateful that we were able to grow together throughout these four years, and we have made countless memories together. Speaking of which, I will continue to send you Snapchat memories every year of our insane escapades in O’Connor Hall and beyond.

To Nicky, Zach, Luca, Caleb, Jed and Miles, I know I haven’t seen you guys nearly as much, but every time I come back to the city, having you there makes it truly feel like home. I can’t wait to see you this summer.

To Jaeger, Lowell, Joe, Holly, James, Andrew, Keenan, Olivia, Ro, Em, Viv, Clare, Alin, Nicole, Fin, Jill, Ciara, Sarah, Tony, Kate, Olu, Ally, Kay, Sof, Jamien, Kyle, Matty B, Seth, Adam, Aidan, Matt and Zhenya, thank you all for the wonderful memories. Each of you taught me something, and whether or not we are able to remain close in the future, I will always remember the time we spent together — the late nights, the early mornings (which were a continuation of the late nights) and the laughs.

To Isabell, I love you.

Riccardo Monico is a senior double-majoring in English and political science. He is a news contributor.