The thing about being a junior is that I feel old.
Suddenly, in my third year here, the students that are younger and newer to this campus than me and my classmates from the Class of 2019 outnumber the students above us that are older and I’ve always hoped wiser. It is a reality that has left me reeling.
At once, I am fulfilled and incredibly happy yet also anxious, envious and hesitant. I feel supported by wonderful, generous friends and I am confident in the balance I have found between fulfilling my obligations to my responsibilities on campus and maintaining my own social life and contact with my friends and communities. Additionally, I have found ways to stay curious and eager throughout my course work as I am nearing many of the goals that I set out to accomplish at Princeton. My life is full but it is full of people, activities and ideas that I love.
At times, I feel an immense sense of envy for the underclassmen I see on campus and for the first-year students in by zee group (advising group). While I sense the ominous horizon of graduation getting closer and closer even three semesters away, they are fortunate to be so early on in their Princeton careers. College flies by. Princeton flies by. They have semesters and semesters to take advantage of new and amazing courses, friends and opportunities ahead of them. They have semesters and semesters to dedicate their time and energy to pursuing the ideas, building friendships and forms of community as well as growing into their values.
But here’s where that envy turns into joy.
Princeton flies by; Princeton has flown by. The past two and a half years have been intense, formative and important. In two years, I have grown into my values, I have embedded myself in strong and supportive communities of caring, generous friends and peers, and I have learned how to learn. I credit a host of incredible, curious and dedicated professors for much of my intellectual growth, but I am also beholden to my friends, peers and classmates for much of that growth. In conversations over dinner, through whispered exchanges in library carrels in the depths of Firestone Library, and in heated debates across late-night snacks during study breaks, I have learned and grown outside the confines of lecture halls and classrooms.
I have a lot to be thankful for and I am overjoyed to know that the underclassmen I envy so much for the time that they have left here, too, will be able to learn and grow here, just as I have.