Sierra Parr is a journalism senior and news reporter for Mustang News. Her views reflected in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

I kept a journal all through college. At the ripe old age of 21, I can safely say this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s supposed to be an exercise in processing emotion but because I’m a bit of a sentimentalist I can’t help but take the occasional peek at the musings of my former self. 

From the days of hoping my roommate wasn’t looking over my shoulder as I wrote down all my “firsts” at my yakʔitʸutʸu standard-issue desk, this leather-bound treasure has been with me through it all. As I’ve reached the point where my journal records nothing but “lasts,” I think it’s only fair to share some of the things I’ve learned from looking back:

  1. As much as you want something to work out, it will be okay if it doesn’t. The best times I’ve had in college have been deeply intertwined with moving past something or someone that wasn’t meant to be. Savor the memories. 
  2. You will take life’s false certainties for granted. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t wonder what my life would look like had it not been for two years of online school. Weighing the consequences would take forever. It only takes a minute for everything to change, so you may as well get comfortable with the possibility. 
  3. Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. College comes with a lot of pressure to make meaningful connections with other people. Don’t forget to hold that same space for your relationship with yourself. I’ve learned to love solo hikes, trips to the movies and dinner dates in the kitchen for one. 
  4. How you relate to your family will change. As the first in my family to move away, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty over the frequency of my calls home. Things are permanently different now than they were when I was in high school. It doesn’t mean that there’s any less love. You will learn to navigate the next phase together. 
  5. Advocate for yourself and what you want. Never be afraid to ask for clarity. It will save you a lot of longing for people and things that aren’t worth your time. Take the leap. It’s much easier than standing on a ledge and stubbornly waiting for the ground to come to you. 
  6. Friends will weave in and out of your life, but the true ones are stubborn. I met my best friend in our dorm bathroom. She lived two doors down but we didn’t speak again for another year. My friend who I depend on for advice went a whole year thinking I hated him. The person I never had the courage to speak to in high school was my constant companion through a lazy college summer. I’m always grateful to them for staying. 
  7. You will not have the chance to do everything. As a freshman I had thousands of visions of what my college life would look like. I could be anyone, meet everyone and see everything. But the truth is, with mere days left in San Luis Obispo, I have yet to do the tri-tip challenge, see a movie at the drive-in or stargaze in Prefumo Canyon. I will have to make peace with the bucket list items that remain unchecked. 

As I read through these old journal entries I’m incredibly proud of how far I’ve come in my four years at Cal Poly. I made lots of mistakes, laughed, cried, laughed until I cried and missed more than a few opportunities. However, I’m pretty content with where this set of choices took me. Thank you to my friends and family for seeing me through this journey even when I was more than a little insufferable.