It’s finally here. I’m only a few days away from my last first day of my undergraduate career. Thinking back, I felt like this day was never going to come. No one in my family has ever gone to college and no one could truly prepare me for the experience.
College has been liberating to say the least.
Without this experience, I wouldn’t have been able to transform the relationship I have with my mom into what it is. I wouldn’t have learned that astronomy isn’t actually something I enjoy, it’s just another realm of science that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. I also never would have gotten the chance to fall in love with Flagstaff.
Prior to 2016, I rarely traveled up here from the Valley. Because of NAU, I have gotten to know what life at 7,000 feet is like. I have come to love the traditions and community as well as the culture that is Flagstaff. Our mountain town is one that is filled with dog lovers and Earth savers. Never have I been around so many dogs and so many people who care about preserving our world.
I love this Flagstaff and I will forever associate it with my college years. But, I must say, it’s very obvious to me that these past three years for me have not been what my peers have experienced. Many of my peers have a life where they can go out and hit the bars any day of the week. They also have a life where parents pay for their education and it doesn’t matter how many times they fail the entry level math course—their parents have it “covered.”
I don’t think I’ve missed out. Sure, I have never been to a party; even in high school, it just wasn’t my scene. I’ve never experienced the bizarre world of Tinder or the kind of night where you spot your soul mate from across the bar. My college experience has been one filled with challenges.
As the first of my siblings to leave the nest, it’s been a struggle to be here in Flagstaff while my family is experiencing life without me. It’s been a life where I’ve worked more than 30 hours a week while maintaining an 18-hour course load. It’s been the part of life that has tried my relationship with my partner the most, but on another hand, it’s also made our relationship stronger.
College hasn’t been the party-filled experience you see in movies. It’s been a true transition into being an adult. I’ve learned how depressing it can be to see your paycheck, the money you’ve worked so hard for, gone within a day because you finally paid rent, bills and bought some groceries.
My mantra for this final year is a quote from Robert F. Kennedy: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” This is something I want to live out every day for the next 260ish days. I want to approach each morning without fear of failing and without any hesitations.
This is my year and I’m ready to absorb it. I hope you’ll join me.
Bailey Helton is the editor-in-chief at The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University’s student newspaper. College Chronicles aims to connect Flag Live! readers to various aspects of campus life.