My life is defined by an endless number of to-do lists. I like the feeling of checking something off after I do it. It’s who I’ve always been — just like other Cal students, I am constantly running around campus, going to meetings and class, and I like it that way. Without my to-do lists, especially over college breaks, I had a tendency to become anxious.
My Cal bucket list is no different. Finally find the swing by the Big C, experience Cal Day, drink my favorite cider at Jupiter, make a freshman take me to Late Night, take in the Bay Lights up on Grizzly Peak. I’ve driven my loved ones crazy trying to get them to do all these things with me one last time. They roll their eyes when I want to redo things I might have already experienced and can’t stop waxing nostalgia — everything this semester has come “full circle” or had some cosmic, symbolic meaning.
You see, I didn’t like high school very much. Not because I didn’t have friends or because I was bullied or didn’t get good grades. It was because nothing ever happened. I went to school, went to my extracurriculars, went home and repeated. I did exactly what I was supposed to in order to get where I had to get. I didn’t really know who I was or what the point of anything was. The relationships I built felt surface-level; none of us really understood each other. I know what you’re thinking: what a superficial, first-world problem to have. But in my teenage mind, it was all about me and how I felt wholly misunderstood. Something was just missing. And while I was similarly just as nervous to ultimately graduate and leave high school, I was ready to get out and find excitement and adventure because I was too comfortable and safe here.
But lately, my bucket list has lost meaning. The items on it have become tasks I need to complete as opposed to new memories I should be making. The more I planned everything out this semester, charting out and counting down to each weekend’s inevitable fun and excitement, I seemed to have lost track of my present. I stopped living in the now and started living for the eventual. Now I’m in the second-to-last week of my undergraduate career and can’t imagine leaving the only real home I’ve ever had.
So college was a whole new world. The first few days were naturally difficult — I remember trying to fall asleep that first week in the dorms and hearing some kid yell from his balcony, “No parents, no rules, I love college!” Though I thought it was obnoxious at the time, the same realization later hit me on a much simpler level. I finally got to make decisions for myself. This was what true independence felt like. There was no curfew, no one telling me whether to go to class in the morning, finish my reading for the next day, even what to eat for dinner. I was my own boss, left to my own devices.
On a deeper level, I found purpose at Cal. I found communities I loved and people who changed me in ways I couldn’t imagine. People I lived with and saw day in and day out, who became my home and my family: my freshman floor, The Daily Californian, Delta Phi Epsilon.
I wouldn’t have survived at Berkeley without these groups, the ones I chose and the ones that chose me. Cal gave me the courage to go away to D.C. for a semester, taught me how do things alone, how to fall in love, how to feel good in my own skin. I’ve given my all for the last four years, and it’s all I’ve known. I am eternally grateful. So maybe that’s why it’s so hard to let go.
When people ask about my postgrad plans, I finally have an answer. But that doesn’t make me happy. I’m honestly pretty sad. I invested so much of myself into my time here, which begs the eternal question of what comes next.
College feels like I’m in perpetual limbo but in a good way. And as is the natural order of things, all these good things must come to an end to move on to bigger and better things. I guess this is the first big test life is putting me through — teaching me what matters most and how to let it go to rediscover myself once more.
I won’t pretend and tell you I’m ready for this. But more and more, I realize there is no time like the present, and I should cherish the next couple weeks without letting it slip through my fingers. It’s not about ticking items off my list but embracing the special moments I have with the people and places I care about most.
So this is me saying goodbye. Cal, you will always be my real home and my first bigger and better thing. No matter how far I go, you will always hold a special place in my heart.
Anjuli Sastry was the summer 2013 opinion page editor. She joined the Daily Cal in spring 2011 as a news reporter before being an assistant summer news editor in 2012 and the assistant opinion page editor in fall 2012. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in public policy.