May 12, 2023 | FEATURES | By Alexandra Akinchina

As another school year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my journey more than usual.

The end of a school year usually marks a reflective period. We reflect on the start of the year, how we’ve grown, the friends we’ve made, and the changes we’ve muddled through.

As I transition away from my sophomore year (wow, how time has flown by!), I’m beginning to connect the dots of my personal journey through college.

I started my sophomore year of college with a full day of internship training. I knew this year was going to be different because I was going to be working the entire school year – something I didn’t do freshman year. I took up the role as the Student Director of Community Partnerships for the Collaborative for Community Engagement on campus and was ready to commit a large portion of my time to that work.

Looking back, taking that position was the best decision I made for myself. Not only was I able to speak to the experience in my future interviews, but I also met incredible people with the same passion for community work. It was the first time I had an actual office-like internship, so I learned a lot about professionalism, communicating with others, and the power of collaboration.

There were times, however, when the stress of college, working, and my commitment to other extracurriculars bubbled up. Our society puts pressure to achieve career-wise, and yet makes us feel guilty when we prioritize work.

I spent a lot of my sophomore year looking through a straight tunnel that focused primarily on my career. For some reason – and I know others feel this too – I feel like I have to know my path. I spent (and still spend) so much of my time constantly reevaluating my “why.” Why am I involved in this? Why did I choose this major? Why am I stepping back from this aspect of my life?

The questions swirl around in my head constantly. College is meant to be a time for exploration, and I found myself scared to make mistakes. Rigidity is the killer of creativity.

As I carried on with my sophomore year, I found myself distancing away from that creativity. Although I love writing, most of my classes were focused on business and economic concepts. Looking back, I should have spread out those classes to make room for breaks. It wasn’t until Block 7 that I took an English class; it reignited my love for writing again and reminded me of my need to be creative.

Towards the middle of my sophomore year, I had a huge knock to my confidence. I had a Block that completely shattered my nervous system. It was so intense that I still feel myself healing from it.

However, one positive thing did come from that class. I realized the power of community. The people both in my class and outside of my class at CC supported me through that entire time period. They constantly checked in, spent time teaching me outside of class, and cheered me on.

It reminded me of one of the greatest aspects of this college – the people.

Coming out of that tough period, I realized it was time for me to show up for the people and community around me. I made extra effort to go to events, schedule more time with friends, and check in with others.

The renewal of spring came with a rebirth of myself. I realize now that I got so caught up in my career that I turned away from the things that make life worth living. The wakeup calls eventually came.

If there’s one thing I learned this year – it’s to lean into what feels right. I almost forgot about how much I enjoy writing and music, but now that I’m leaning into it, I feel like I become a more authentic and full human being. A huge chunk of myself no longer feels missing.

As you reflect on your year, think about your “why.” It may just reveal the parts of yourself that need a little more care. It’s the power of reflection.

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