As this part of my life comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to really reflect on the weight of the past 4.5 years.
A good friend of mine asked me a simple question the other day:
What was your happiest moment of your undergrad experience?
I paused and thought about it. I flipped through the memories stored in my head and so many images came up.
Saint Mary’s, women’s crew, Mitty 201, APASA, ACN. Studying, late nights, late hikes, and 30 minute drives to the nearest boba place (before iTea Moraga was a thing). Serendipitous moments. I really indulged at Saint Mary’s, and while I was happy there, it didn’t sit right with me to pick any of those memories. None of those were my “happiest moment”.
I transferred out of Saint Mary’s after completing my second year, realizing I could not sustainably pull out private loans. I don’t think I could truly express how terrified I was at the thought that I wouldn’t be completing my undergrad in the way that I had hoped. But I kept pushing. After banking up on pre-requisites in the Peralta district and trying out the EMT life to see if it was for me, I somehow found my way up north and moved on to attend school at Sac State. I finished my B.S. in Kinesiology there after 3 semesters. And now that I’m done with that degree, I’m onto the next…
Wait. So what was my happiest memory of undergrad?
Let’s go back to terrified Mylee. To the Mylee that had left her dream school. To the Mylee that was working a million odd jobs and trying a million different hobbies to fulfill the void. To the Mylee who had no idea what she was doing attending Merritt College, Laney College, and Berkeley City College all at once. What a time.
I thought more about my time at community college. The phenomenal professors, the hustle and bustle of the environment. The BART rides, the independence I gained. The moment that stands out the most to me is a particular morning at Merritt. I had my lunchbox of grape tomatoes, cucumbers, baby carrots and nuts. A filled hydroflask and maybe some salami and sharp cheddar cheese was on the table too. I was reviewing flash cards — probably stereoisomers and ring structures — right after o-chem/biochem lecture. I had planned to train later that day at SAMA for kickboxing and wanted to get in study time and fuel up for my workout. I was also in the middle of applying to CSUs that semester, and was planning to finalize which school I wanted to attend later that day.
I really had no sense of what I wanted to do with my career or with my life in that moment. I was just going through the motions, trying to take classes I knew would help me finish my Kinesiology degree. There were so many things up in the air.
Despite all the uncertainty, I was still unbelievably happy. I was happy because I was satisfied with all the decisions I had made up to that point, and I was in control of everything that I had felt I was humanly capable of controlling. Even if I lacked a vision of the bigger picture, I had the right sense of direction. I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to make a difference. I had all this passion saved up, ready to be spent and put into the right field. I hadn’t found it yet, but felt that I was on the right path.
I think that’s all you can really ask of yourself in your early 20s: Is this the right direction for me? I ask myself that question often, and I always try to answer it with a confident yes.
So that’s my happiest moment: alone, snacking, studying. Fueling to workout, feeling like a productive person. Even though I was terrified, in a school of strangers, and unsure of what the future held, I felt a sense of security in my self that I had never grasped before.
This memory is mundane, and may seem a little small. It’s definitely not a celebratory moment, exciting, or even filled with any of my beloved friends. But I think that’s the point.