Four years is a really long time. Four years is a president’s term, the whole life of a preschooler, the length of medical school. If I look back on the person I was four years ago when I walked onto the Hopkins campus, I am amused and amazed. Since I stepped onto the Hopkins campus, I voted in my first election, ran two half marathons, rented an apartment, and traveled to seven countries, six of them for the first time.
Nearly two weeks ago I donned an itchy black robe and a mortarboard hat that made me look insane, and marched across the lacrosse field with my classmates. I am now officially a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University. Seeing my diploma and the waves of photos appearing on Facebook didn’t make this feel any less surreal, but it certainly happened.
In the few weeks I’ve been home now, I’ve had time to reflect on what this means. As a child, I always thought that there would be a point in my life where I felt grown up. There would be one day that I woke up, or a moment that I knew that I was an adult. As I got older I pushed it back a bit—there was a time when I thought “double digits” were grown up—but I always thought that one day I would wake up feeling adult, prepared, and confident in myself.
As I packed up my apartment and drove home one last time, I finally realized that day might never come. I gave my diploma to my mom for safekeeping. I got carded at my own graduation party. I dropped a fish taco all over a silk dress. I cried in public as I said goodbye to my friends. At the same time, I’m about to embark on the most grown up thing I’ve ever done. This Saturday I’m leaving for Lesotho, quite literally flying solo. In preparation, I’ve cut off my waist length hair, I’ve gotten vaccines, applied for visas, researched flights and NGOs.
Only in the last week, though, have I realized how little these tasks will actually prepare me for what I’m about to do, what I’m about to see, what I’ll experience. In the past few days I’ve acknowledged to myself that while I’ve done all I can, it won’t be enough. I’ll inevitably be overwhelmed. I think maybe this is adulthood.
Hopkins has made me as prepared as I could ever be for this moment, and it’s also given me the wisdom to accept that I won’t ever feel fully ready. It’s made me smart enough to realize how little I know, and curious to know more. Hopkins has opened my eyes to the amazing opportunities out there, and put these opportunities within my reach. It has forced me to challenge myself, and prepared me to succeed.
I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring to the amazing Class of 2012. Congratulations everyone, I’ve been so incredibly lucky to call you my classmates and friends. Have an amazing time, a wonderful summer, and I’ll be keeping up from Lesotho!
Thanks for reading along for four years. It’s been a great ride.