Senior Reflections: Growing From All Kinds of Experiences

It was a Friday morning around 11:55 a.m.; I’m walking into my psychology class 10 minutes late holding only a pen and a piece of paper. I’m wearing athletic shorts (with no underwear on), a sorority tank top and to top it all off — I’m barefoot. At this moment, I really had to take a step back and question my life decisions.

We’ve all had similar experiences, ones in which the only way you can get through is by reminding yourself that at least it will make a good story one day. Stories you will tell for the rest of your lives when someone asks you about your college experience. Sometimes in these stories, you can even learn a little something about yourself. For instance, in this moment, I learned that I have absolutely no shame.

But there are other stories with other lessons learned. About friendship; sitting in a pale white tree with some of my closest friends on a beach in Florida — not giving a care to the outside world — or streaking our old freshman dorm on a winter’s night because of a silly bet made during a game of beer pong.

About failure; trying to make a comedy film only to end up with an embarrassingly cringe-worthy blooper reel, or the countless nights with friends being indecisive, never managing to make it out of the house. About hard work; finishing an entire human physiology textbook in one night before the final, or staying in lab until midnight only having to wake up at 6 in the morning to go back in. About love; skipping class to drink mimosas in Lullwater only for myself to fall out of a tree and cut open my chin and look over to see a girl who found it funny — but also endearing.

Of course, it wouldn’t be college if there weren’t lessons learned inside the classroom as well. I’ll never forget the resting state potential for a neuron (-70mV), the theme of Hamlet (it’s about death), nor what a Grignard reaction is (you don’t want to know). But nothing compares to the satisfaction of recognizing that I learned enough information in all of my NBB classes to actually understand the process of a brain surgery that I witnessed firsthand.

When I sat down to write this reflection, I questioned what to write about: how could I sum up the past four years of my life? Would the typical graduation themes be the best route? Should I be cliché and mention how these were the best times of our lives? Or how about the idea that our graduating class is the future of the world and all of our dreams will come true? Instead, I decided to be somewhat selfish, and share with everyone some of the stories that meant most to me throughout my time here at Emory.

Putting at least a bit of my college memoir down has been a cathartically positive experience.

However, it also made me recognize the ease at which my thoughts could turn into dissatisfaction. There are plenty of things to regret: terrible decisions, missed opportunities, unfulfilled potential and wasted time.

All mistakes provide an occasion for growth and learning, and it’s definitely important to take that opportunity. Moving forward from college requires a mindset change; no longer is it beneficial to look back with regret.

My hope was that writing this might motivate at least a few of the students graduating here today to take some time, as we inevitably sit through a long graduation ceremony, to reflect on some of their best stories from Emory — even take this opportunity to share it with our loved ones present to celebrate our accomplishments.

But more than anything to not let memories get marred with regret and try to remember at least a couple of the countless good times in the future.

Senior Editor Jeremy Benedik is a College senior from Austin, Texas.