When I first applied to San Francisco State University, I honestly didn’t think I would graduate. I was nothing but a lost twenty-something year old with a mind full of ideas, and a heart filled with dreams. I was as unsure about myself and was confused as could be. I was a wanderer, walking down an unpaved path. But, after I got accepted into San Francisco State, the path started pave. I decided to attend the College of Business and major in Marketing. I knew it would be a tough journey, considering I would have to commute 30 minutes to school, attend school full-time and work full-time. I knew this meant goodbye, social life, and hello, no life. However, it was a sacrafice I was willing to make because I was obtaining a college degree from a well known accredited institution. After my acceptance, I landed a corporate job that I thought would last throughout my college career, so the path paved just a little bit more. I finished my first year of school, and the path paved a little more again. Then, I started progressing in my job, and – you guessed it – that path paved some more.
Confidence beamed from my core, and I felt invincible. The path kept getting paved, so I kept wandering down it, turning every corner with nothing, but a smile. Then, suddenly, my journey down the path came to a sudden stop. My professional career wasn’t working out as planned, and I became unemployed. The path stopped getting paved, and I felt myself getting pushed back towards where I started. Every ounce of me was fighting to keep moving forward, but every bit of effort felt useless because I felt useless. I questioned my capabilities and my confidence diminished quickier than it came. Everything I worked so hard for felt like a dream, and nothing but a dream.
But, I never stopped fighting. The more I was getting pushed back, the harder I fought back. Every push made me stronger and stronger. I became so strong that I started to push forward again. I started to focus more on school, created some wonderful friendships, and joined HerCampus, the #1 global community for college women. I joined their San Francisco chapter – a group of brilliant, talented, and ambitious young women. Every meeting we shared laughs, ideas, created memories, and empowered one another. We respected, valued, and encouraged each other. We shared our college experiences to the world through the art of written communication. I gained marketing and communication skills and every article I posted I could feel the path beneath me rumble. I looked down and saw fresh pavement. My path was continuing to grow again. No – I was continuing to grow again.
Now that my college career is coming to an end, I look back on it, and I don’t regret anything. I didn’t always have wild nights out in the city, I didn’t go to many campus events, and I didn’t join a sorority. I didn’t have the college experience everyone says you are “suppose” to have. I just did me, and I learned so much. I learned many things during my education that will apply to my future career, but I also learned so much about myself and life through my college experience. Through my experience, I learned that my failures and accomplishments do not define me, they make me stronger. The most important thing I learned is to not let the path stop me from moving foward because the path doesn’t define me – I define the path. I am the path. Now, I will find myself lost and troubled many times down my path. Some days it continues to pave, and other days it stops, and I will wonder if it will ever be fully paved. But, I must remind myself that it won’t be because life is not a smooth ride. Many things in life do not work out the way I want them to, so I can’t stress out about the things I can’t control. Now, I know to just continue down the path and enjoy the ride.
So, to the class of 2016, now that we are graduating and continuing down our paths together, my final thoughts to you are: remember to always be yourself, create the life you want to live, and make your way down YOUR path. You are the definition of yourself. Keep growing, and the path will keep growing. No one can take that away from you, but yourself. Now, make your way into this big crazy world, and don’t you ever look back – just keep moving forward, just keep growing.