Saying goodbye to MSUM, not my best four years

by Kristin Miller

A good friend and I recently went to a movie. While standing in line for our tickets, we took out our Dragon IDs and started laughing at the freshman incarnations of ourselves. Baby faces, bad hair and all, it was easy to poke fun at the two girls in those photos.
As a senior, the last couple months have been a marathon of nostalgic moments like this. From pulling one last all-nighter to get a paper done on time, to sitting down for one more meal in Kise, everything college-related has taken on the sort of rose-colored glow you only experience when you know something good is coming to an end.
On May 15, I will be donning my cap and gown and walking across the stage to collect my diploma, the piece of paper that quietly proclaims I did it; I’m a college grad.
I love MSUM. I love being a Dragon. The last few years have undoubtedly been the best I’ve had so far.
That being said, they won’t be the best four years of my life.
I’m 22. I’ve got sixty-some years or more left to make memories and mistakes and experience all the variety life has to offer. While these years have been important and life-changing, I’m not going to let them become the ideal to which I hold up the rest of my life.
While completing my last tests and turning in my last essays, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my fellow Dragons and I will really take away from MSUM when we leave at the end of the semester.
Obviously, we’re all here for an education, but as any student knows, your years in school are about so much more than that. Your time as an undergrad should be when you really start to stretch your legs and find out who you are.
That’s the beauty of these four (or five, or six, let’s be honest) years. Everywhere you look there are opportunities for growth, for new experiences.
So, a little advice for the undergrads. Go to parties with all your new dormmates; find out that might not be the best choice you make for yourself. Find a major, change your major, change it again. Start a relationship you know won’t last past winter break; learn what amazing friends you have when they let you cry on their shoulders after it ends, even though they warned you against it from the beginning. Volunteer, join a club, start a band. Even if it’s only for a semester or a month, study abroad.
Also, know that you’re not obligated to do college “right.” Staying out all night on the weekends can be fun, but it’s not mandatory. Spending your whole spring break working instead of on a beach somewhere doesn’t mean you failed some kind of college litmus test. It’s alright to feel more lonely, confused and lost than you thought was possible.
You can graduate and not have all the answers or any answers at all. Just don’t box yourself into thinking these need to be the greatest years of your life. For most of us, the best days are still coming.
Somehow, through all those bumps and tribulations, I’ve left behind the 17-year-old girl in that ID photo, with all of her insecurities and doubts, and become a person (albeit still with some insecurities and doubts) who can stand up for herself, who has goals to reach and who has gained a more concrete grasp of who she is and what she is capable of achieving.
That, more than anything, will be what I take away from my Dragon days.
MSUM, you’ve been good to me. I can already feel the tears coming as my undergrad days dwindle, but I know I found a home here, one that has had an immeasurable impact on shaping my life and my future.
It truly is a great day to be a Dragon.

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