Here’s the last thing I’ll ever do as a member of UCLA’s Daily Bruin newspaper. I’m a fan of symmetry in my life, and it’s fitting that the last thing I did was a piece of writing, which is where I started out four years ago.
The column itself isn’t so much about my experience with the Daily Bruin as it is a look both back and forward on the eve of graduation, so hopefully it’s not so navel-gazey that all of you who are graduating/have graduated can enjoy it too.
I’ll stop babbling now and instead clog your dashboards with the actual column (you can read it online here, too).
“I know I’m ready.”
I wrote that four years ago in a blog post during what I called “the biggest change of my life”: graduating from high school and leaving for college. Four years later, I’m taking another big step on the eve of another graduation. It’s strange how much things seem to change because all I can think about now is how this time, I don’t feel ready at all.
Graduating when we are, I know that most of the class of 2012 must feel the same way. That is, unless you’re a South Campus student or one of those people who landed some investment banking job. You all can return to flipping through IKEA cataloges and figuring out which couch goes with your new apartment. I hear the “Ektorp” is a solid choice.
Graduating. When I graduated from high school, all I could do was look forward; college was an adventure, and I was only armed with the warm memories from home.
But that was enough. I was ready for everything, for all the monstrous midterms and hangovers I knew awaited me.
But now, all I can do is stare out across the threshold while real life pushes me into another adventure, one with worse monsters called “unemployment” and “moving home.”
It’s unbelievably scary to work toward the promise of a job and success for four years, only to reach the end and find out that what you were looking for doesn’t exist anymore. I entered UCLA as a computer science student and it’s difficult not to wonder if leaving the major was the right choice, or if I wasted my time as an English major, or if I should have reconsidered law school instead of slaving away at the Daily Bruin.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m more ready than I ever thought. UCLA and Los Angeles are such big places that it’s nearly impossible not to pick something up. Like many students, most lessons took place outside the lecture hall.
I’ve eaten samosas on the roof of the Fowler Museum and smelled defeat in the Rose Bowl locker room. I’ve seen Downtown Los Angeles light up at night and scaled the cliffs at Malibu. I’ve watched sunrises from my dorm room after all-nighters. I’ve eaten at Fat Sal’s.
I’ve talked to playwrights, former gangsters and basket weavers. I’ve seen what comedian Patton Oswalt once said is true, that “everyone and everything has its own story, and something to teach you, and that they’re also trying – consciously or unconsciously – to learn and grow from you and everything else around them.” I’ve realized how important that idea is.
While four years hasn’t paid off in the jobs, fame and money we were promised, we’re still prepared. To paraphrase Jack Donaghy from “30 Rock” – we’re young, and we still haven’t blown it completely, so let’s not start now.
I’m still afraid. I still question my choices. I still don’t know what comes next. But whatever that is, I know I’m ready.
Estrada was a video producer and an illustrator for 2011-2012, a video senior reporter for 2010-2011, an A&E and video contributor for 2009-2010 and a prime contributor for 2008-2009.