When I first started college, I was set on becoming a trauma surgeon. Now graduation has passed and I think back to myself where those four years went.

I’ve realized that I have been living my life from milestone to milestone. Some of these are small, like turning in an assignment or a paper, others are larger such as graduation, but once those assignments are turned in and graduation is over, I ask myself what’s next. That’s how I’ve lived for four years. Asking myself, what is due next and what do I want to do after I graduate.

Leaving high school, we are faced with starting over. College is a new beast to us. New people to meet, places to see and a whole world of newly gained freedom. Yet, college forces us to think about what we are doing next. There is pressure to take difficult classes and get internships to add lines to our resumes. We get to enjoy the start of a new chapter of our life for a few days during orientation, and sooner than we expect the excitement is gone and then each semester serves as a countdown to graduation. We say to ourselves, “three years left, two years left, one year left.” Each year we consider ourselves one step closer to our goal.

I no longer have years to count down. I’ve made it. Four long years of studying, crying, laughing and making memories along the way. Now I am faced with starting over. You would think I would be excited to graduate and start a new chapter. But truth be told, I am scared. I am facing loans, a competitive job market and the struggle of finding an apartment. I have spent most of my time thinking about my next steps and what my new life will look like. I have yet to enjoy and remember the life I had for the last four years. I realize now that is how I’ve been spending these last four years, preparing for this moment, for this semester, for this milestone. Looking back, I realize I was so focused on my future that I was not living in the moment. I implore you not to be like me. Don’t celebrate when the milestones are near, celebrate the life you have while working towards them.

I’ve heard before that life cannot be enjoyed in reverse and I now know that to be true. I now stand here at the end of my college career asking myself, “Did I do enough?” Use these four or five years to learn who you are, because sooner or later you will realize that everyone is counting down to something. Take this as an ode to starting over.