This is my last semester of college. I do not know how I managed to survive almost four years. Last night, as I laid in bed snuggled next to my friends in an attempt to wind down after a long day, one half-jokingly muttered, “I don’t know why I’m still allowed to go here honestly.” I know more than generous people will contest this but even as a senior, it is hard not to believe that my getting into college, despite my notable effort to get through applications, had a lot more to do with being at the right place, at the right time, feeling the right amount of entitled. The only reason I discovered Pomona College was due to a college access program with a base at my high school. Shortly after the submit deadlines for the program, many of my friends received letters informing them of whether they had been chosen to move onto the interview portion of the selection. Not having received an invitation or a denial letter, I remember cushioning myself with the thought that it was better to know for sure whether I was not selected for the next round and mentally rehearsing a brief introduction before walking into the doors of the scholarship center, into a conversation that changed my high school career and my life in ways that I could not have ever predicted.
Although I was always encouraged to “stay in school” growing up, the horizon for what my future could look like did not often extend past the small places I knew to be my home. I could point on a map where I’ve lived and trace the route I would roadtrip during summers and winters from Waukegan, IL, a small city on the shore of Lake Michigan, to Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, where my abuelos still have a quiant white house. Only if I let it would my imagination take me elsewhere and those daydream trips would be more liberating than any of the ones I have had as of late. Why hasn’t home felt like home all these years? Where am I going to settle down after I graduate? Will I live alone or with other people? These are the questions that are not on my syllabi but they are the ones that matter most to me right now, at this moment. In the middle of this incredible pang of senioritis, I cannot remember a day without overthinking, of just writing without worry, completing the small tasks on my to-do lists, a day without feeling guilty for missing opportunities for what seemed to be calculated steps toward success. I am stuck. And what a luxury it is to dread these intellectual blocks when my siblings do not want to go to school anymore and there is not enough to eat at home. I wish someone had told me that coming full circle sometimes concludes with more anguish than fulfillment when the kind of compass guiding you back is also the one asking you, What exactly have you accomplished so far?
With less than 100 days until graduation, I feel less prepared to be proud of how much I have grown in the short but substantial time I have spent here. I know it will be an important day. I just hope that when it comes, I stand on firmer ground with myself to move forward.