I sit here writing this article on May 24, 2013. Exactly one year ago, I was dancing with my friends and having the time of my life at my senior prom. Our last year of high school had culminated and we all looked forward to the next big stage in our life—college. I sit here looking at pictures from that night, the smile on my face and the happiness in my eyes. Those aspects were specific to that particular night. But when I fast forward to one year later, here I am sitting in my communication section on a Friday with that same joy and excitement.
This was the biggest transition I went through since coming to University of California, Santa Barbara. Instead of simply showing up to “my life” back at home, I suited up and engaged in activities in my passions at UCSB.
The most important thing I have learned at UCSB is what it takes to succeed. It’s not like high school where you can simply show up to class or extra curricular actives. In order to do well, you have to exhibit passion for the topic. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way when I decided to do a major because it looked good for a job. However, I realized I hated all of my classes. How could I not like math and science, which were classes I had taken every year of my elementary and high school career? I was never asked before, “what do you want to do, what do you want to learn about?” Now that I was finally being asked, I had absolutely no idea what the answer was.
I always thought I wanted to be an economics and accounting major. I wanted to graduate from school, find a job, and be successful in my life. Just like everyone else. I took classes for my major this year, but I then realized I did not enjoy any of them. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I started to do some soul searching to answer this question. I went online, asked some friends, and even talked to academic advisors. I realized that it is so important that I get the most out of my UCSB education and enjoy what I am learning in school. So I made the difficult decision to change my major to political science and venture down a path with an unknown destination.
At UCSB I wanted to find groups of friends who shared the same passions as me outside of lectures and classrooms. I had always been passionate about basketball. I played year round in high school both on my school’s team and a club team. Needless to say, I didn’t have enough free time to start taking up new activities that come with serious commitment. So, in the middle of fall quarter, I made one of the best decisions of my life and joined the Ski and Snowboard team. The members of this team took me in as a skiing buddy but most importantly as a friend. Through our passion of skiing, our friendship developed into something stronger. By spring, I had gotten involved in Associated Students and started working for The Bottom Line. It definitely took some courage to join all of these activities alone. But in reality, the first step was the hardest—going to the first meeting. Most of the people that I’ve met here at UCSB are as sunny as the weather in Isla Vista. There was nothing to be afraid of. No more high school social hierarchy to adhere too. UCSB became my home and Isla Vista my stomping grounds.
Recently, I went back home for my brother and sister’s senior prom. I returned to a place where people knew me a year ago. Here I was at my siblings’ prom sentimentally reminiscing this collection of moments, the safety and comfort I had felt around me—the comfort I had lost at UCSB. Even though there is so much uncertainty, UCSB has given me the opportunity to explore into the unknown. I don’t know where I’ll be three years from now. I don’t even know where I’ll be next fall. The thing that I do know is that I’ll be smiling and laughing the whole way through.
I challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone. I challenge you to be different than you were last year. Even though sometimes it’s hard to stay true to yourself, I challenge you to never stop transitioning—maybe not necessarily into a different person but into a better self. Catch ya on the other side, and see you in the fall.