Beginnings are, in my opinion, an ambiguous concept. Beginnings only come after endings, which means that a fresh beginning is the sign of something else coming to a close. In order to move on to this next chapter, one must accept that there really is no terminal end over the course of life, but a continuation of the beginning. As paradoxical as this may sound, I have been experiencing this feeling as my third year of college starts. Those first day of school feels are somewhat different than usual this year, for reasons I thought I couldn’t explain until I truly began to ponder the meaning of “beginnings.”
Even though it’s the fresh start of a new school year, I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of sameness in comparison to my last year. Maybe it’s the physical fact that I am still living in the same housing as last year, picking up where I left off with the same physical viewpoint of campus, simultaneously falling back into a similar mindset as my sophomore self. Maybe it’s that my classes are mostly the same, continuing along the same track as they have always been. Or maybe it’s the people in my life — my same relationships steadily continuing after the summer hiatus. I’m happy and thankful to have these consistencies installed into my college life now, as the transition between freshman and sophomore year lacked this quality of sameness in various aspects. Sophomore year made freshman year feel like an out-of-body experience, as if each were their own individual time capsules. Most probably because freshman year of this crazy four-year adventure we call college is meant to be an outlier across the board — it doesn’t get newer than uprooting the safety of your entire childhood for a brand-new life away from home, verging on adulthood, but not quite there yet.
While I may currently be continuing my college career with an overwhelming sense of familiarity, I have to remind myself that this year is a new beginning in reasons that might not be so blatantly obvious. Summer was a time of rest and relaxation, a much-needed period of recuperation from a stressful academic year and an opportunity to finally slow down and enjoy the moment. Now that this chapter has come to a so-called end, my brain is convinced that this mindset must come to an end, which simply seems illogical the more I think about it. Why not accept the beginning of junior year as a continuation of the beginning of summer (although within the realms of a physically different environment)?
Yes, sophomore year seems to merge into this year in many ways, making it easy to lose sight of a beginning and ending of life transitions. But there’s really no need to think in such definitive terms. The summer was its own beginning and had its own end, but junior year can just as well be a continuation of the experiences and realizations I found in the summer months and past years of college, even if they are supposedly tucked away into their own time compartments. My college career has consisted of highs and lows, but most importantly, it has consisted of a great deal of growth that builds on itself with each school year.
Junior year, the continuation of the beginning of a new phase in my life — college and the road to adulthood — will still hold a bunch of firsts. There is new information to know, new experiences to be had, new people to meet, new realizations to be uncovered and new beginnings to be found. I am one step closer on this journey, using my past to help shape my future in one, fluid timeline.