I started college in 2011. I moved into a dorm, and became a student-athlete. I made a lot of friends because of the sport I was in; I had a new family, which were my teammates. My first year in college, I admit, was a year all focused on academics and training. I’d have classes until 5:50 in the afternoon, and training from 6 in the evening until 10 or 11. I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t do anything else. I was always late to class though, even though my dorm was literally 5 minutes away, but I was almost never late for training. Sometimes I even focused more on my sport than my studies, rather than the other way around.
The following year was a sad year for me, this was the year that I wasn’t a student-athlete anymore, because of a career-ending injury. I was back to being just a regular student, I didn’t have any extra-curricular activities anymore. I had a hard time transitioning and adjusting because I was so used to being pre-occupied all the time, and it was hard to see the squad progress without me. I used to spend my nights just watching them train, until I couldn’t do that anymore due to internal issues that didn’t allow ex-athletes to watch the squad train anymore. We weren’t even allowed to enter the training grounds. We had to keep our distance for a while. So all I had left were my academics. This was the year I failed about six-nine units (three subjects) I was introduced to drinking, partying, and all the muss and the fuss that Taft had to offer. I was fine with it. I didn’t make a big deal out of failing, but of course I knew that I didn’t want that to happen again.
On my third year in Taft, I was already taking up the major subjects that my course offered. It was a hell of a lot different than what I was used to; it seemed more serious and it was a lot harder than all of my minor subjects. I knew I couldn’t fail this year. I knew that I really had to make time for my majors. I promised myself that I didn’t want to be a mediocre student, cramming or rushing my homework, but being the procrastinator that I am, I sucked at time management. I became the mediocre student. I did my plates literally just hours before classes started, and I’d say it was just fair work. Just for the sake of having something to submit. I could’ve done better. I should’ve done better.
Come fourth year, I felt like a zombie. I was doing 3-4 individual plates per subject, sometimes even more. I’d rest for a few hours, and I still had a lecture subject to study for right after. I was buried in work. Nights weren’t for sleeping anymore. I got used to only having about 4 hours of sleep because then I’d still have to cram for my other subjects. Sometimes I didn’t even sleep in my own bed anymore, just to finish some group work at somebody else’s house. Most of my nights I wasn’t even home.
The year after that, I finally graduated. I still lived in Taft, because I wanted to apply for a job just near to where all of my friends were. I didn’t push through. Instead, I was preparing myself to take my board exams. I didn’t leave Taft just yet. Until I had to be at home more often. Something had happened to my family and I had to choose to be at home than continue preparing for the boards, and so I had to stop attending my review classes. I was only in Taft for about 3-4 days a week, just so someone would occupy the condo unit that I was renting which I was tied to pay for since I signed a 1-year contract. I decided to go to med school after a few months, and to be able to do that, I had to take an entrance exam, and I went to a review center just near Taft, so I’d still have a reason to be living in my condo.
This went on until early 2017. I didn’t do anything in Taft anymore, expect hang out with my friends who are my former teammates. I know, what a waste, right? I was still paying for the condo, the electric and water bills, association dues, but I didn’t really have a reasonable purpose to still live here. I couldn’t think of life after college. Well, I could, I just really didn’t want to. I didn’t want this to end. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to leave my friends behind, because most of them are still studying. I didn’t think I could be happier if I was away from Taft, from all of my friends, who have turned into my family.
After taking the entrance exam, this was the time I knew I had to stop. This was the time that I knew I had to move on. I was only in Taft to finish off the last few months in my contract, and I was making the most out of it. I was spending a lot of time with my friends, because the school I was about to enter is 13kms away, about an hour travel time. I put a lot of good money to waste the last two years. I was a bum; but I decided to move onto something far much greater. Imagine an art student taking a leap into medical school. I had to study a lot, while I was preparing for my entrance exams. I had to catch up on the science units that we didn’t take back in college and that now I had to learn on my own. Most of my days were spent studying. I was actually really happy with the set-up of my life. Days spent studying, nights spent hanging out with my friends. It was balanced, I thought.
Now I have to leave it all behind to move onto better things. I know I have to leave Taft soon. Sooner than soon, really. What I don’t know is if I’m ready. Taft has been my home for about 6 years. Taft has given me the best college experience ever. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to let this go. I knew I had to move on. I knew I had to do better things with my life. I just really didn’t want to. So many places with so many good memories.
Taft has been my comfort zone. I can’t believe I’m finally stepping out of it and I admit, it is all kinds of bittersweet.