The Big Decision
Life is all about choices. Every day we are faced with situations—some trivial, others monumental—but it is our decisions and actions that make up who we are. They become our experiences and memories. In high school, the biggest decision I encountered was where I wanted to attend college after I graduated. For me, that meant anywhere in Southern California. Of course I considered other options, but the lure of the beach, endless sunshine and a whole city full of possibilities was just too strong to ignore. I was sure it was where I was meant to be. Never could I have predicted that seven months into my freshman year at Loyola Marymount University I would be staring out at a city I thought I would love and realizing I wasn’t happy. In that moment, I finally accepted the fact that while I had made the wrong decision, I had the power and the courage to change it.
A Different View
I had gone on a run along the campus bluffs. It was what I did to clear my head, and that was definitely what I needed. I had been struggling with the thought that I wasn’t really happy here. The path was secluded and provided an uninterrupted view of the city of Los Angeles all the way to the ocean, but that night it all looked different to me. The city that once had so much allure suddenly seemed cold and lackluster. I stopped and looked out. As I stood there alone I thought, “I can’t stay here.” It was the first time I was sure. Not only did I realize that I couldn’t be happy if I stayed, I finally made the decision to do something about it. While I understood it would have been so much easier if I had just stuck it out, ultimately I knew that college is far too short and valuable not to enjoy the experience.
Time For Change
For months I had fought off this feeling. This was what I wanted, I should be happy here. I had to be. It was hard for me to admit that I wasn’t, and even harder for me to accept. How could I have been so wrong about myself? What did I miss? I realized I had to start from square one. The situation forced me look inward and really think about what I needed to change, what was most important to me and what I really wanted to get out of my time in college. While the school may have been beautiful, I learned it wasn’t the location that mattered so much as the connections and experiences. I discovered that above all I valued kindness, community, and self-respect, and ultimately figured out where I fit in the world. Looking back, I realize I had learned more about myself than I ever could have if I had chosen just right the first time.
If I had the choice to go back and start my freshman year at CU, I wouldn’t change a thing. Like Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Every decision we make is a tool we use to guide us in the future. What I once saw as a mistake was actually what led me to where I am today—and I couldn’t be happier. My time at LMU taught me how to make the most out of every situation, and find a way to make it a positive experience. I understand now that it’s okay to get things wrong about myself because I always have the power to change it. Sometimes it takes getting everything wrong to discover what’s right.