I’m entering my final semester before graduation. Commencement is the pinnacle of the journey, and I’m excited to celebrate it with the community I’ve built. It’s great to see my friends, co-workers, classmates doing amazing things. I’m proud of the people I’ve met and seeing them make the next step in their future.

But it took me a while to get here. I had a really bumpy start to college. I didn’t feel connected to my school or the city I was in which was hard coming from a place where community was really relevant and important.

I spent most of my time thinking about how much I wanted to be home with my family. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I fixated on being the best I could be. For me, that was getting good grades and building a resume. Everything else was secondary, and I had a hard time finding the right school-work-life balance.

It too a bit of maturing, but I realized I wasn’t happy. I was sacrificing friendship, even though I didn’t have to. I just need to build the right things into my schedule to feel fulfilled, and it took a lot of self-reflection to come to this realization.

It took a few people who welcomed me into their lives, which taught me to welcome myself and others. I saw my life coming together, filled with friends, bosses, professors who are invested in my well being once I brought my whole self into that space. Finding the right support system really helped me feel happy and fulfilled, and meaningful connections made each of my successes feel even sweeter.

The biggest anxiety I have about post-graduation is starting all over again and finding that community.

At the same time, I have confidence in myself, that I’m stronger now than I was the first time I was trying to do this. I have my support system that will be there for me no matter what happens, and for me, this feeling of connectedness makes me feel more secure.

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