Last semester, I lived a double life.
In one, I attended classes and clubs at Miami. In the other, I filled out transfer applications and visited other college campuses over the weekends.
Each day, I woke up wondering how to make such an important decision, and I lived in irrepressible fear of making the wrong one. I desperately wanted someone to just make this decision for me, so that I could sleep at night.
Throughout the process, I largely kept any thoughts of transferring a complete secret. Carrying this weight all alone felt like the strong choice - but it only made me feel weaker. Writing this Good Morning Miami column provided a sense of stability while I considered transferring schools last fall and, for that, I'm incredibly grateful.
I only confided in a couple of my close friends and professors, despite the significance of this important decision. So, instead of talking about filling out Common Apps, I chatted with friends about literally anything else. We traded gossip about sorority socials, movies, memes and vines.
But, most importantly, if someone asked how I was doing, the answer was always "fine." No question about it. I was fine, life was good. Sure, it was stressful - but that was all.
(I later used GMM to write about that experience -- insisting I was fine when I was not -- and my column was directed at myself as much as it was at other people.)
One rainy afternoon in October, sitting across the table from one of my best friends in King Cafe, a new email flashed into my inbox: I'd been accepted to the University of Michigan for the spring semester.
I was numb for a few seconds, unwilling to believe such a prestigious university wanted me.
But the problem was that I wasn't all that interested in Michigan.
Michigan is a sports powerhouse and an academic machine, producing well-rounded graduates by the thousands. But, to me, those credentials always rang hollow when I compared the benefits with a disconcerting possibility: being cast aside as just a number, without any individualized attention.
I had no interest in being a number.
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I don't remember the exact day that I decided to stay at Miami, but I remember the feeling perfectly: I was free, confident and finally at peace.
I finally talked to a few of the friends I hadn't confided in and, slowly, life began sliding back into place. Feeling excluded from Greek life had been a problem I'd contemplated for months, so this semester, I rushed and joined a sorority, and found the sense of community I'd been missing.
I no longer had to consider taking down the string of white lights in my room, the collection of brightly-decorated quotes off the wall or the navy blue monogram hanging above my bed.
Life isn't perfect now, by any means, but I'm happy again. And really, that's all I was looking for last semester. Happiness and a sense of peace.
Finding ways to be happy at Miami began and ended with finding and maintaining confidence. Confidence in myself, my abilities, my intelligence, my personality and my decisions.
It's been a privilege to write this column for two semesters, and I look forward to continuing in the fall. There are many people I need to thank - people who've inspired, encouraged and motivated me.
Thanks to Anna for strawberry acais and just listening, to both Kyles for reminding me that good guys exist, to Julianna for being my unofficial editor, to Will for the truth, to Bo for letting me write a photo caption that one time, to Zoey for joining the Culture team, to Duard for alliterations and jelly beans, to Kate for her positivity across the pond, to Megan for being my first editor, to Julia, Erin and Rachel for telling me to write news (and maybe someday I will!), to Ben for Ariana Grande, to Kirby for being my second mom, to Ceili for advice and to Samantha for being able to laugh and lead at the same time.
And a very special thanks to all the seniors on the TMS staff for your hard work and dedication to this paper. You'll be incredibly missed. (The list could go on, but I don't want Connor and the design team to yell at me for going over my word count.)
And so, until August, goodnight Miami.