Yoga instructors will often bring up the concept of impermanence — how each moment, whether filled with pain or filled with joy, always comes to an end.

For four years, I went through the motions of this weird, fun, difficult experience believing that each emotion would last forever. It seemed like each conflict was my downfall, each relationship enduring, each exciting night would be the best one, each song I danced to would be my favorite and each dream I held onto would define me for the rest of my life.

The start of my freshman year felt like a movie. Everything from living on my own and new friendships and relationships, to State Street and freedom, made me believe that the greatest time of my life had just begun. I stopped caring about the realm outside of my new college bubble — I didn’t think I needed it, because now, this was my world and I had everything lined up exactly how I wanted it to be. But, of course, no one has their life figured out at 18, and if you think that you do it’s probably just because you’re only 18. Sure, I did have indescribable moments that year, but for a long time I rejected my need to grow. I thought that growing and changing would be the antithesis of my blissful, sheltered life. I couldn’t escape from reality, and when it finally caught up to me, it made my world a whole lot bigger.

It’s funny how you don’t notice the changes until after they have happened. I recall a night earlier this semester when a few of my friends and I were conversing in the bathroom of a party, ironically, a classic freshman year activity. However, this time we were talking about how different we all were from when we first started college. We noticed how each of us weren’t as high-energy as we used to be, and how our maturity was much more apparent. This wasn’t meant to disvalue the beauty and spirit of youthful living, but to realize that although each of us had grown a few years older, lived through a traumatic pandemic and endured rigorous coursework and dreary Binghamton winters, we were still there — together and proud of one another. We could no longer be the people we were at 18, because now we were strong enough to build our own world, made up of real friends, dreams that we had grown into and passions that we had finally had the opportunity to explore. College wasn’t about embedding into the bubble. It was about breaking out of it, because at some point, we don’t need it anymore.

Each memory from the last four years, even the really amazing ones, weren’t made to keep me in the past forever. Though I often must combat the relentless wrath of nostalgia, I have learned that these memories are meant to capture moments, not lifetimes, and that using them as stepping stones rather than permanent dwellings is far more effective. Don’t get me wrong, memories are peculiar, and I imagine that there will be days after graduation where I’ll wake up and for that first second, forget that I am not in Binghamton anymore, and never will be again. You can never relive these monumental experiences, but for some reason our brains let the memories live on within us for a long time after we’ve gotten rid of the Pantone 342.

Jaclyn Ciaramella is a senior double-majoring in psychology and art history. She is an Arts & Culture contributor.