The Beginning of the End or The End of the Beginning?

By Bridie Bryant

As I look at a calendar, my mind is captured by racing thoughts. I am a senior. Like many soon to be college graduates, there are huge dilemmas I will face in the next 10 months.

Do I follow my own dream and live with the consequences of possibly losing everything or do I settle for a job that is safe? Do I continue my relationship with the one I love or should we separate? Should we let each other branch out for the possibility of living life to the fullest? Do I live close to my friends and family to play it safe or should I take the risk of moving thousands of miles away to follow my own dreams? Do I search for more or have I found everything I need? And finally the question we’ve all faced; Are these the best times of my life? In a few years will I be happy with the choices I’ve made recently?

If I could give advice to someone heading into college, I would say take your time and try everything. Go to those parties. Go to the student organization meeting your friend wants to check out. Go off campus and meet new people. Apply for that job even if you think you are not qualified. Make genuine connections and listen to people. Sing the songs at the bars that are cringeworthy. Give everyone your full attention, whether that be the senator you bump into on the street or the custodial employee at Union Station. Never treat someone lower than yourself. The world is a fast paced adventure and the only one who can stop you from accomplishing something is yourself.

Be passionate. Work hard with everything you do, you may not ace that class or you may find yourself having a bad day at work but it’s all about how you look at a situation. Everyone fails. Even you 4.0 students with a scholarship to an ivy league, you’re going to make mistakes. Big mistakes. And it’s impossible not to make mistakes, it doesn’t mean you are a failure.

I have one more year in school with the friends I have grown with. These people have seen me fall and rise. I have lost people I thought would be there forever. Although, I have met people who will stay with me for as long as the universe believes we need each other. Personally I believe we are placed in each other’s lives for a reason and an opportunity to learn more about ourselves through shared experiences. I have seen heartache and joy in many different atmospheres. It is overwhelming to think about how much my friends have grown, but it is even more overwhelming to realize how much I have grown.

I have traveled the world like I had an endless supply of money. I have danced until the blisters on my feet bled. I have cried until my makeup was completely gone. I have smiled until my cheekbones hurt. Last year I told my counselor if I graduated this year I would be content. A lot of really horrible things have happened but a lot of wonderful things happened too. I would not have learned anything if I did not fail, if that boy did not break my heart, or if those ex-friends told me the truth instead of lying.

Personally, the start of my senior year is like listening to a high powered 1970s rock ballad when it hits the certain part of the bridge, where things pick up. Quickly as you try to grasp what is going on around you, you feel overwhelmed and excited simultaneously. Personally Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen is the song that comes to mind. It starts off like you are recalling a memory from your freshman year. As the piano is playing, you can recall the shenanigans you pulled as a freshman and before you know it the guitar kicks in and you’re already halfway through sophomore year. Things really start picking up. You have already had your heart broken, you have lost some friends, but you have made amazing memories running around the streets after a night out about to pee yourself because your friends and you are laughing at something ridiculous.

The second verse kicks in and as Bruce’s voice becomes stronger, the music has picked up, and you’re a junior. You think you have got a lot down but like the song there’s surprises and things you did not expect. Bruce Springsteen finally learns “to make his guitar talk”. You have finally learned that you have amazing people that you do not want to let go. But then he mentions a long walk which could be compared to the trials that junior year holds. You have got so much work to do and your friends start becoming distant with each other. You wonder if you will ever find the end of the year without giving up.

Then just like the chorus disappears, so does the end of the year. And you realize maybe you spent too much time focusing on the bad you didn’t realize how much you took for granted until the end when you say goodbye to your chosen family for the summer. Now Bruce says, “Mary climb, in This town is full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win,” you feel like he is talking to you and saying that you have one last year to make it count.

To appreciate everything and everyone and every moment. And you get nervous because time’s running out you get excited because you know you can make it the best year you’ve ever had taking everything you’ve learned and everyone you love with you. Just like the rest of the song, there are no words. Life is just chaotic, beautiful moments, because you are given the choice like Mary to write your own ending. You can jump in that car. You can take the chance to live and be free one last time on what Bruce likes to call “Thunder Road”.

With peace and love,


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