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College. 

It was the place that I was terrified to step foot into, and it is now the place that I am leaving sooner than I expected. I never thought the day would come where all of my hard work finally paid off, and I would be able to get handed a diploma with my college degrees written on it. 

I cannot believe how quickly my time here has passed. It seems like just yesterday that I graduated high school and I was packing up my things to move six hours away, to a completely different location in a school I had not yet been a part of. I remember being filled entirely with nerves, wondering if I would be able to meet new people and get good grades. I was also anxious to be away from home, away from my family and friends that I was so familiar with. I didn’t know what to expect once I got there, or how my next few years would play out. 

At first, it was rough. I experienced some difficulties making strong connections with other people, and on top of that, I went through a bad breakup with an emotionally abusive partner two months into my first semester, which left me with a severe amount of trauma, anxiety, issues with trust, and low self-esteem. At the time, I didn’t have a solid friend group at school yet to support me, so I felt utterly alone. I was lost, unsure how to find my way in this strange place, and I wanted nothing more than to come home to Long Island and be back where I thought I belonged. 

However, things began to look up as soon as the second semester rolled around, my life quickly changing for the better faster than I could keep up. I suddenly began to meet a ton of new people in my dorm building and in my classes, all of whom I had many things in common with and whose kindhearted natures stunned me completely. Their exuberant and fun personalities really brought me out of my shell, made me realize my worth, and most importantly, helped me to heal and become a lot more confident in myself. My outlook on life became a lot more positive, and I began to enjoy my time at school much more than I previously had. I couldn’t even believe that I had met so many amazing people that had so easily pulled me out of the dark place I had been in, and how much happier I became because of them.

So, to all of the wonderful friends I made during my three and a half years at Oswego, thank you. You have helped me grow in ways that you could never even imagine, and I would absolutely not be the person that I am today without any of you. You all have made colossal impacts on my life, and I will cherish the awesome memories we’ve made together for years to come. I love you all more than words can describe, truly. 

My friends unintentionally taught me a lot about life and about myself while being at school, but also, being at college itself taught me many valuable lessons that I will take with me when I leave here. I learned to stop caring what everyone else thought of me and to unapologetically be myself. If people don’t like you for who you are, then they are not meant to be in your life. The people who stay in your life matter more than the people who don’t. I figured out that love can most certainly die, and that people aren’t always who they say they are. But, I learned that love can also come in the most unexpected of ways, even when you aren’t looking for it. I know that it’s okay to weed out toxicity from your life, in whatever form it comes. I know that doing what is best for yourself is the most important thing, even if it affects your relationships with other people. I learned that motivation, passion, and effort is what will allow you to succeed, and setting high standards for yourself is what gives you a sense of drive. I also learned that I never have to walk alone. There will always be a shoulder for me to lean on, always someone I can ask for advice or for help, and always someone to make me laugh insanely hard when all I want to do is cry. Most importantly, I learned to never take anything for granted, to always be completely present in the moment when you are with people you love, and to enjoy every single second of your life, no matter what.

Looking back on myself from freshman year to now, I am not the same person I was three years ago. There ended up being a ton of light at the end of my very, very dark tunnel, and that light gave me access to newfound opportunities, newfound friends, and newfound inner happiness. I have accomplished SO much during this extremely crucial time of my life, and I could not be more proud of myself. I couldn’t have done any of it without any of the people in my life, old and new, and I will be eternally grateful for how they helped shape me into the best version of myself.      

With all that said, I guess this is it. Goodbye, Oswego. I’ll miss the vibrant sunsets over Lake Ontario that made me remember how beautiful our world is, tequila sunrises and pounding bass, cookies and cream ice cream from Bev’s, and being in the car screaming out the lyrics to every song with my best friends. I’ll miss the Mario Kart nights, hours on end in the library wondering when the assignments were going to stop coming in, and dancing around in the kitchen for no reason. I’ll miss the good times, the stressful times, and even the really bad times, because they were all a part of my college experience, and I would never trade any of it for the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better three and a half years, and because of my time here, I feel more than ready to throw my graduation cap up in the air with all of the other seniors on December 11th. 

My college journey may be coming to a close, but the rest of my life is just beginning. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me, and I’m excited for everything else I will be able to achieve down the line once I leave here. And no matter where I go, what I do, or who else I meet, I will always be a Laker.     

Sara is a double major in English and Creative Writing, with a minor in Communications at SUNY Oswego. She hopes to one day work for a publishing company as an editor, while also living out her lifelong dream to write books. When Sara isn't reading or writing, you can find her cooking, listening to music, or rewatching her favorite Netflix shows!
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