Even when you’re not a senior, every final feels like some epic battle to the finish. Tying your hair back, slipping on some sweats, and pushing up those thick-rimmed glasses while you study. Then you get to that last paragraph on your research paper, you get a sudden brain fart, there’s only 1 hour left to the deadline, and you can faintly hear “The Final Countdown” in the back of your mind as you get on that struggle bus and push through that mess. So, good luck to you all, and please, send your luck back, because I need it.

Winter break is going to be nice for me though. Got my best friends planning a get-together, Mom’s going to cook some awesome bun rieu, and I’m going to attend some college graduations!

What’s that? Oh yeah, my high school friends are graduating college. Before me. That’s right. Mmhm. I hear it every time my mom bumps into one of her friends at the Chinese fish market. Yelling over the deafening noise of other people loudly laying claim to their dinners. You know, the way mothers do. It’s always the friend starting with, “Oh yes, my son/daughter is going to graduate a year/semester early! They’re going to have a job by the time everyone else is done.” And then my mom flapping her hand and saying, “So smart! My daughter should have done the same thing! She didn’t choose (UC) Davis, tsk.”

As a senior…do they have ANY idea how NERVE-WRACKING that is? I start questioning my college choices, whether I really will be out-competed because the early birds maybe do get the worm, and whether I will ever even be employed. All the should’ves could’ves would’ves of my past come to mind…and I end up sitting in the corner and hugging my Snorlax pillow. Did I really waste my four years? Should I have done 3? 2?

After some thought, I am confident that my answer is no. No, it wasn’t a waste. Living away from home, cooking together with my suitemates, making friends from Korea, Japan, Cameroon, Jamaica…none of that was a waste to me. I loved the time I spent with them, with my liberal arts college classes. So I say this: if you enjoyed your years at college, they were not a waste. Really, you won’t get another chance at this. So, own it, and don’t worry about what other people are doing.

Next time I can just say, “Oh yeah, I’m in the Equestrian club. I ride horses. What does your kid do?” YEAH. That’s right. Imagine me looking downright classy on that warhorse. I actually wear jeans, but hey, who’s telling ‘em otherwise?