Wide awake and a million thoughts later, I write this post to you. Have you ever felt like you didn’t know where you were going? Have you ever felt like you are doing everything you can and it is still not good enough? Or have you ever felt like you knew what you wanted and it turned out that you were completely wrong? Does doubt ever go through your mind?

Most nights are sleepless nights for me. They are spent laying in bed reflecting on the type of day I had, the friends I spent it with and the memories and or experiences I shared. Sometimes I sit here and blank completely and then I think back to every single time that someone called me a strong individual.

Despite all of my hardships, I have still come out on top. Those were all very strong feelings I use to have and sometimes still do. However, coming from what felt like a war to now feeling like I ended a peace agreement, I feel like myself more than I ever have.

The other day, someone told me that they were proud of me. Now, I know this doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary but this is a phrase that I do not know all to well. A phrase that is not used enough in our everyday language and a phrase that definitely is not just another phrase. This phrase had meaning. It had depth. Hearing the words, “Sara, I am so proud of you! You did this!” made me feel like I was on cloud nine.

I had never really thought about those words. Nor have I ever really understood why people said those things. I am someone who does the things that are expected of me and like the sense of accomplishment. Too often was I going through life and just completing things off of my long lists. Until I heard those words, it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Someone was proud of me. Little ol’ me. I had accepted a job offer and will be graduating college in a little over a month. How crazy? Well, let me just tell you that its a feeling of accomplishment. However, it is something that I feel is expected of me. Something I am supposed to do, not something I have to do. It’s more of something I need to do.

As interesting as it sounds, I never really thought about it. College isn’t mandatory? So why do we do it? Why do we spend countless hours studying for an exam that will make or break our grade just so we can have a piece of paper that says, “Bachelors” on it? Nowadays, we can just use a printer and make one of those ourselves. Why spend 4 years and or more completing such degree while killing and belittling ourselves in the process? Well, success and motivation is the answer to that.

College for me has been so much more than a grade, a GPA, a diploma, and more than a financial commitment. This has been a place of growth. Somewhere where I could be anything I wanted to be and accepted for it. Not judged, not questioned and certainly not belittled. This was the place where I did second guess myself, a place where I met new friends, a place where I grew individually and learned how to take on more responsibility than I ever had.

Now, some would argue that I had more responsibility at age 16 than I should have. However, college gives you a whole new perspective. I may have spent most of my days grocery shopping and entertaining friends after a long day of classes and I may have spent most of my days binge watching Netflix. However, I also spent every single day of my college career growing and thinking about my future. I have transformed into an adult right before everyones eyes. So hearing the words, “I am proud of you” meant a lot to me.

Hearing those words make me think of all of the extra curricular activities I have been involved with including but not limited to: HerCampus, Illini Pride, SCLA, Student Senate and Phi Mu. I think of all of the friends I have met. I think of getting back to the very first day of school where I couldn’t believe I had finally signed my own lease for an apartment. Or the day I joined a sorority and of course I would never forget the late night study dates I had with friends. Or the countless hours I spent studying for spanish only to still have taken 4 years and understand a tiny bit. Or to think of all the dinners I have learned to cook because my friends needed me more than I could have ever imagined. Or doing long distance with my relationship of now 6 years. I felt important. I felt needed.

Going to college gave me purpose. Something I could have never got anywhere else or from anyone else. A purpose that I had been looking for growing up but never found. College took away the anger I felt and it turned into a positive happiness that I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. College has given me more than I can even put into words. More importantly, I found my home. I found a place where I am loved and welcomed whole heartedly and will be saddened when I graduate. Champaign has become my home for these last two years and I truly feel like I have grown more than I ever have just in those two years of being here.

How could one place have such an impact? How could one person change your whole world? How could a piece of paper give you drive and purpose? All questions I decided to ponder at 3am and all questions I may or may not still have answers to. All I know is that I do not give up and will never do so. Just so I can continue to make people proud, inspire others and be the role model I know I am. If I could do college all over again, I would. Why? Well, all of the countless friendships and really life long friendships I have created is the reason I still continue to do what I do everyday.

Scrolling through Facebook, I look at the amount of likes some of my posts got and some of the things people have posted about me. Someone being proud of me is only one. However, someone looking up to me or admiring me for all that I truly do here makes me feel empowered. It makes me feel like I am doing what I was brought here to do and that makes me feel good. Even at 3am, never lose sight of your worth. Know that tomorrow will bring something better than today did and that future friendships are right around the corner. Never feel like you are anything less than what others see you as and continue to prove the world wrong. Also, always ask yourself, “What is my purpose?”. Once you find that, the rest is gold. As for now, I am signing off.

Smile big!



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