There's something about graduations that make me want to blog. It's a natural time for reflection, but beyond that, I think it's because for a few short weeks, there's nothing to do but celebrate and soak in all the (positive) attention from your friends and family, and you naturally feel the pressure to say something. (Aren't those award ceremonies where the winner is expected to make a speech sooo awkward?)

At approximately 2:07pm this afternoon I took my last final exam as an undergraduate. For anyone wondering - it was BU's MA193, Discrete Mathematics for Engineers, or "how to get those last two credits so that your degree is ABET accreditted". Honestly, the reaction was underwhelming - I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but as I walked out, the first thing I thought was: "so this is it?"

"so this is it?" - me, after my last final. also me, after eating an oyster for the first time.

I gave it a few more minutes, but no profound wave of inspiration or emotion hit. Oh well. Maybe I need to spend another $100k for a masters degree for that. I took a slow, half-hour stroll back towards my apartment, mulling it all over. Still no inspiration.

It was only until hours later, in the middle of cleaning my apartment, that the massive realization hit when I lifted a picture of myself out of a pile of old photos from high school graduation four years ago:

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The guy in the photo is an inch shorter and thirty pounds lighter than he is today. The guy in the photo thinks he's cool and is going to be a college sports star. The guy in the photo has never had his heart broken, or broken a heart himself. The guy in the photo hasn't yet heard his parents tell him that he's not good enough. The guy in the photo isn't worried about money, or where he's going in life, or feeling lonely even though he's constantly surrounded by his peers. He's young, naive, happy, dependent and most of all - innocent.

For me, college was a lot of things, but the first 18 months of it was probably the most trying period of my life. The things that I had previously had success and happiness in without putting much effort in - soccer, school, significant other, friends, parents - all came crashing down around the same time as I tried to figure out who I was. It took a seismic shift of mindset, as well as the support of both old and new friends and family, to dig myself out of that hole. Slowly, I found out that life is a lot better when you tell the truth, when you knock on every door that you come upon, and when you take a little bit of time every once in a while to ask yourself if you are indeed going the right way.

So, in ten days, I'll put on another cap and gown - this one red and black - and walk across a stage to shake a few hands and grab another piece of paper. And sometime that afternoon I'll make my mom take another picture, just like the one above, and I'll smile just as wide.