I have always thought of life as a story. Its words, pages, and chapters describe the odyssey of our existence on Earth. The novel contains the highs, the lows, the crevices in between. Coming to college has been the most awakening chapter yet.
I have lived in a different realm of life. Living on my own in downtown Madison, experiencing independence like never before, creating new friendships and connections, and growing in countless ways.
Yes, the hardships have been plenty and constant. I have battled through constant speed bumps: falling and fracturing six bones in my hand and wrist and having a concussion that was so painful, recurrent vasculitis flares, daily pain, exacerbations of my gastrointestinal conditions, flare-ups on flare-ups, frequent colds and viruses. I have had periods of time where I have had to heavily rely on the support of my IV fluids, or go home to get extra help and assistance. People hear this and will ask, “Has it been worth it?” as they ponder everything. I could not be more confident in the answer I give them, it comes instantly to my mind: yes, it is worth everything and more.
Since I was a child I have loved learning. I always envisioned myself going to college, creating new connections, and gaining independence. That was never a question in my mind. What I did not envision was the journey from one point in my life to another… I battled intestinal failure, debilitating diseases, and a body that was always trying to sabotage me. For a long time, college was a mystical topic to discuss. It always came with “I hope to go to college…” and “if I can go to college…”, and I am able to now say “I go to college.” The evolution of the mentality behind college is what drives me everyday.
I know, without a doubt, going to college is a gift and miracle. It is not guaranteed in life. It does not happen for everyone. Somehow, through all that has happened, I am able to experience it all. I have lost friends from these same diseases, I see friends that are currently trapped in similar spots to what I was once trapped in. I have had doctors fight with everything they had to help me. I have a family and community that always has rallied around me. Those are the things I think of on the hard days. The days where I wonder if I am having too many issues to be here. Or if I carry “too much luggage” to be a college student. I think of those people, and of my dear friend Ana who now soars above in heaven, and I continue to pursue my dreams.
We are not guaranteed anything in life. We do not know if we will live for another day, or live for years to come. We must seize hold of every moment. Seizing hold of college was the best choice I have ever made. The pain and hurt has been worth it.
I start break thinking of all who have made this semester what it is… the staff and professors that have supported me, the friends who make everyday full of laughter and joy, my family who cares about me and does everything to make this possible for me, my doctors who work hard to make sure I remain on campus and enjoying everyday.
I feel emotional saying I have finished my first semester of college. I am just so grateful to be here, experiencing this all. I am thankful for the hardships and victories, they have all composed this radiant chapter of my life.
I am grateful for the late nights spent studying. The hours I went in to visit with professors during their office time. The trips back and forth to various libraries and cafes to focus and knock out work. The deep diving into research and academic sources to find that perfect quote for a research paper. The ice cream stains around my mouth from enjoying a study break at Memorial
Union. The stress of getting good grades. The photos that occupy a majority of my phone of various slides and presentations that were too important to forget. The blisters on my feet from standing all afternoon and moving around at a football came in the infamous Camp Randall. The occupation of my time spent learning. Those are all things I have wanted to experience for so long.
So, here is to the close of the chapter of my first semester of being a freshman at UW-Madison. Here is to the joy, pain, laughter, smiles, tears, new adventures. Here is to everything that has made this chapter what it is.
As our campus says, “Onward!”
With a grateful heart,