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I’m graduating this spring, but it feels like just yesterday I was moving into Adelaide Hall and sitting down in my first hundred-seat lecture. When I think about that seventeen-year-old first-year student and the person I am today, the most stunning difference I see isn’t that I don’t need Google Maps to get around campus and downtown Kingston anymore, nor that I’m a way better essayist after four years of practice; it’s that I’m better at loving myself.

Self-love has been a lifelong journey for me at this point, and it’s much easier now than it used to be, but I want you to know this: you don’t need to love every part of yourself all the time. I don’t think that’s possible, actually. Sometimes it’s more than enough to look in the mirror and be okay with the scars and stretch marks you see, or feel low and know that you’re still worth caring for.

In high school, I knew where my comfort zone was and played well within it, but I’ve since learned that life begins outside the comfort zone. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d accomplish half the things I have, but here I am. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be uncertain; self-love isn’t being endlessly confident all the time, but rather being self-possessed enough to know when you can give yourself a push and a little tough love, and when to let yourself rest.

With all this big talk about coming into myself, I don’t know where I’d be without my friends, family, and partner. That’s another thing I want you to know: part of self-love is letting people love you and knowing that you don’t get to make that call for them, however unlovable or undeserving you may feel.

I hesitate to call university the ‘best four years of my life’ only because there’s still so much life left to live, but it has definitely been the most memorable and formative chapter of my life so far. I remember, vividly, the girl I was four Septembers ago, and I couldn’t be more excited for her to learn and grow. I hope in three years, when I’m this close to graduating law school, I’ll look back on who I am now and feel the same way.

Larissa Zhong

Queen's U '22

Larissa is a fourth-year student at Queen's University. She loves Taylor Swift, heart emojis, and romantic comedies.
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