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Mama, I made it!

The glow up is real, you guys. I am graduating from MTSU, and I have to admit that I like myself exceptionally more now than I did four years ago. College began for me as an 18-year-old who knew nothing about what I actually wanted for myself, what I was capable of, or even who I was. As a follower and never too far out of the box, I had to go through experiences that told me that blending in and laying low wasn’t what I truly wanted in the long run.

(Duh right?)

College has magical powers. I am pretty sure. Without a wand or a cape, it granted me the gift of finding who I am supposed to be, and there is definitely magic in that. I am probably going to sound cheesy here, but I will try to keep the cringe-o-meter at a minimum. 😉

There is something absolutely wild about realizing that you’ve made it to the end of college – that you actually did it. Up until this point, I have spent my entire life in school searching for what makes me happy. MTSU helped me find that in what feels like the blink of an eye. Let me tell you what I have learned, offer a little advice, and reminisce.

FROM BIOCHEMISTRY TO FASHION…?

Passions take time to figure out, and I am a prime example of this. If I told certain people I know now that I began college as an honors student majoring in biochemistry, they would say I was joking. I didn’t choose this major because I actually wanted to work in the medical field. In fact, I learned I had a tendency to pass out at the sight of anything involving open wounds when I hit the floor during a demonstration at the hospital. I chose it because it “sounded impressive.”

Change is always weird, but changing majors is OK. Doing this was probably one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life – no joke. I decided to take the things I enjoyed the most and run with them. Thank goodness I changed my trajectory because I am so excited to work in the fashion industry instead of trying to not pass out over a patient. Phew.

Tune in to who you are. Realizing that my degree shouldn’t have to reflect something society deems as prestigious to impress everyone else, I learned the only thing that matters is if you are proud of what you accomplished at the end of the day.

When I was first struggling with figuring out my path, my Mom said to me, “I want you to love what you do every day. As long as you can pay your rent and you are smiling, you don’t have to worry about anything else.” Mom is always right, of course. This is a time to relax, find what makes you truly happy, and work to be successful at that. It is important to know things will work out exactly how they are supposed to. So, take a second to find what makes you feel like a boss! It is never “too late.”

THE PEOPLE

I wouldn’t be here without the people who helped me from MTSU and my community. The advisors became my lifesavers. I was able to build lasting professional relationships with some of my teachers, and they have been major helpers to me through figuring out this whole adulting thing. My peers from my classes and workshops turned into my favorite Netflix nights and car song jams. It is amazing how one can build such a large support system here and how that community will fight for your success.

Would you believe that this Blue Raider almost went to another university? The very first interaction I had with MTSU was in the MT One Stop center with the kindest staff member working diligently with me to get my scholarships back. MTSU offers many scholarships to help students, like me, who can’t afford the full tuition. Since I was on track to go somewhere else, I never applied for any scholarships after I was accepted that summer. The deadlines were long overdue. A rookie mistake, I know.

When the bill came and reality hit, my helper at MT One Stop graciously worked with me to mend my situation and pulled together all of my scholarships for me. It took almost a week for him to work out the kinks.

I saw that this incredible team of people wanted nothing less than for me than to have the opportunity to attend, even if I did mess up in the beginning. I took that as a sure sign that this was where I was supposed to be after all. I have met some of the kindest, coolest, and most inspiring people at this university.

APPRECIATE EVERY SECOND

Four years seems like a long time at the start. As I stand at the finish line, I realize how fast my time flew by! I remember the little moments the most. The butterflies in my stomach the first time I landed in L.A. for my fashion internship, the way I thought my voice echoed too loudly when I spoke up in the Parliamentary room for SGA, the times I sunk, no, melted, into my chair when my student films were played on the projector to the whole class, the butterflies in my stomach at Nashville Fashion Week, the two years of laughs between me and my coworkers at a marketing agency I worked for, the first time I sat next to the girl who would become one of my very best friends, and the red dye that stuck to my hands for a week after dying fabric for a project (that’s when I learned to wear gloves 😉).

Everyone’s experience is unique, as it should be. Take in these special snapshots of your college career, because these are some of the most influential times of your life.

I remember not being able to sleep the entire night before my first day of college classes. I was so pumped to be attending a big university, but lying in the back of my mind was doubt that I would be able to do it. The same feelings of excitement and nervousness I felt that night never left but continued to reveal themselves again and again. There is beauty in these emotions because they are what pushed me for so long to not settle, take bigger leaps, and, most of all, work super hard.

One of my biggest fears has been regretting something I said no to or didn’t try. Being a “yes, woman” has brought me more than just an extremely full schedule. I built connections, gathered work for my portfolio, and learned more about my favorite industries first hand!

Have fun with college. Everything works out, I promise. You will get that paper done, you will make it through the all-nighters, and you will, eventually, be able to remember where you parked your car after a full day of classes. So, take the risks at full throttle. Make the most out of each semester you have here, get involved, and always shoot your shot when an opportunity is presented to you.

College has been the absolute best time of my life because I learned to put myself out there in this way – seriously. Create as many memories and take as many experiences as you can!

My best advice?

Don’t be whatever you define as “normal.” Be the farthest thing from it, and that place is where you will make discoveries about yourself. Oh, and make sure to call your mom often. 😊

Author Margaret Mahaffey is a senior at MTSU, majoring in Video and Film Production with minors in Marketing and Fashion Merchandising. The views and opinions expressed above are her own.


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