Finding the ‘Best Years of My Life’

by Jessica Derr on May 29, 2020

Finding the ‘Best Years of My Life’

by Jessica Derr on May 29, 2020

Jess Derr posing with her friend

College is often made out to be the thing all young people should aspire to, with phrases thrown around like “the best years of your life” or “the time to really find yourself.” I, on the other hand, moved toward this next chapter of my life like an indigent dog being dragged along on a leash. (It’s not that I didn’t value education; it’s more so that I’m a bullheaded Taurus who is opposed to change and the uncertainty that accompanies it.)  

Some of my high school peers were deeply invested in the process and already had vivid images of themselves at certain institutions, ready to shed tears when that golden acceptance letter came their way. Meanwhile, I made my own school selection by process of elimination until only Arcadia remained to get club lacrosse coaches and my father to stop hounding me about my plans. As a result, my feelings hardly strayed beyond lukewarm, something that made me feel uneasy as the students around me seemed already willing to die on a battlefield for their colleges, bleeding out in their respective school colors before even stepping foot on campus for move-in day.

Suffice to say, my eventual affinity for Arcadia was no love-at-first-sight Hallmark movie brand of infatuation. But my original sentiments certainly changed. This happened over time and through effort. As cheesy as it may sound, that makes it all the more special. It took me my first two years of school to truly recognize that if you want to find genuine community and have genuine experiences, you have to be genuine yourself. For me, it was a terrifying thing to throw my unbridled self out there. But in getting involved, whether just in my department or through the countless organizations on campus, and saying yes to any opportunities that crossed my path, I was able to forge close connections with like-minded people with the same passions and interests as mine who truly have enriched my life. Not only do they make me a better scholar, thinker, writer, but they make me a better person as well.

As cheesy as it may sound, that makes it all the more special. It took me my first two years of school to truly recognize that if you want to find genuine community and have genuine experiences, you have to be genuine yourself.

- Jess Derr

It is astonishing to think that the place I once looked toward with apprehension is now the place where I feel the keenest sense of belonging. The Taurus in me hates that just when I finally feel comfortable and established in this setting, I have to leave it all behind and start from scratch elsewhere. However, I realize that when we feel comfortable and settled in any given environment or role, it is usually a good indicator that it’s time to move on. After all, we never develop as a person when we’re stuck in a state of suspension. 

As an introvert to my core, meeting new people and being in new places can sometimes feel like a Herculean task, but I know Arcadia sufficiently prepared me to tackle any challenges I might encounter. In the meantime, rather than fixating on how the end crawls closer with each passing day, I am trying to slow down, live in the moment, and not take even the most mundane things for granted whether it’s just hanging with coworkers or chatting with professors. I plan to soak it all up for as long as I can.