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What I wished I knew: One tiger’s reflection before senior year

Senior year is a terrifying combination of words. It was hard in 8th grade. It was (putting it gently) emotional in high school. Make no mistake: it is just short of Earth-shattering in college.

A place like Clemson University is not neutral. Whether one enjoys it or not, it very rarely produces disinterest in the minds of those who attend it, work for it or are touched by it in some other way. Regardless of what it may be in the many minds here on this campus, there is very much something in these hills. The fact that I am now entering the fourth and final quarter at the place our beloved Tigers call home inspires love, fear, doubt, happiness, shock and awe. All at the same time.

How could it be that I am sitting in one of my last lectures of my junior year? Just a short time ago, I meandered around Clemson for the first time on freshman move in night; I stumbled upon my first college party, and got drunk with my new classmates for the first time. Just a short time ago, I went through my first grueling finals week and found out what it was like to get bad grades for the first time. Just a short time ago, I was still a child.

That all feels like it was a million years ago and also five minutes ago at the same time. During that span of time, however long it may have actually been, I have learned. I have learned a lot, gained a lot, lost a lot and – above all else – loved a lot. I have loved my choice of school, I have loved my friends, I have loved the best and worst times alike. I just wish I knew something: how quickly it would flash by.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that time at Clemson wasn’t infinite.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that the friends I tried to make early on didn’t define me.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that the friends I did make would sometimes fade away.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that the social circles I was in at the time likely wouldn’t matter at all.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that those occasional bad grades weren’t the end of the world.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that personal dreams and aspirations would change as I got older – and that it was totally OK.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew that I wouldn’t feel inadequate indefinitely.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew just how much this experience would age me physically, mentally and emotionally. And how perfectly okay I would be with that.

As an underclassman, I wish I knew the utter joy that going through all of this would eventually bring me today, a day in which I am starting to understand the gravity of how lucky I am to have been put here.

I wish I knew how to accurately put into a word the singular feeling that all of this combines to inspire in me. What I want you to know is that you must savor, cherish and enjoy each and every moment at this place. This wonderful, scary, loving, hardening, relentless, ruthless and breathtakingly beautiful place that will give, take and teach you so much. From someone who wishes he still had as much time as you might: enjoy it. Every last minute.

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