As August slips into September, I can’t help but think about the fact that I have been out of an undergraduate institution for six years, which means TEN years ago I attended my college orientation. I only remember a few names of people from those days. I remember the entrance placement exams, scheduling meetings and ice-breakers to help transition us from the top dogs in high school to the new freshman on the block. The thought of college was not something new, it was just the next step in my academic journey since I had been working 4 years to get to this next stage. Despite my recent diagnosis with Crohn’s disease, I was ready to move on and fulfill all those clichés that you hear like “friends are the family you choose.” Although I don’t remember everyone I had met then or those that I had met during my time at the U, I am lucky enough to remember everyday of how I met my best friend.
My best friend today was an acquaintance early on during my time at Scranton. To let you have a sense of my first semester, I spent the majority of my time in the library studying for biology and chemistry. I was determined to continue my academic excellence despite the constant blood work needed to maintain remission since my surgery. Ironically, my best friend today is a direct result of studying chemistry in the library. To understand how laughable this is, you have to understand a little about how I deal with the stress of studying. I typically get a little stir crazy after studying for extended periods of time, and since I had seen most of the chemistry in my high school courses, I was more then willing to spend my extra time to help my lab partners and friends that I had made in the first few weeks of class. I was in a coveted group study room in the library with my friend Mat who needed help before his quiz. These rooms were pretty big, and our new friends would come and go as we studied. Long story short, I got stir-crazy, stole Mat’s laptop, and held it hostage as I ran circles in the room, around the tables, chairs and yes, people that were there. And you may have guessed it, my best friend was present for this odd behavior. I know I absolutely seemed like a crazy person, but I call it constructive crazy, especially since I was able to help Mat do well on his quiz. Little did I know my special type of crazy would lead the way to my best friend.
Studying was a regular on my to-do list item, and I continued to see this acquaintance around. I had classes and shared notes with their roommate, my lab partner was friends with their friends, and before you know it we had a group of friends that would eat together and hang out together. This all evolved from studying chemistry in the library to going out on the weekends together over the four years of our time at Scranton. It started with studying, and evolved to lunch or brunch, having random classes together, going out to the dive bars, watching sports…you name it I probably have a story where that acquaintance and I were together. It is funny to think about how a mere acquaintance becomes family, and looking at the entire timeline is quite remarkable.
You never realize the little things in your life, like running around a room with a laptop will change your life forever. Without this strange encounter, I can guarantee I would not be the person I am today. My best friend has been there for 2 college graduations, the death of my grandparents and my aunt, acceptance and rejection letters for PhD programs, travelling to South Bend, Indiana for my first Notre Dame football game and the subsequent road trips, the successes and failures of my research life…you name it we have been through it. If you haven’t gotten where this was going, my best friend, my boyfriend, has been a special part of the past decade of my life. We have grown as individuals and together all because of a random study session one day 10 years ago. I have been there for his graduations, professional successes and life-altering choices, and I wouldn’t have wanted my life to turn out any other way.
When we first started dating, and family and friends as how we met, we gladly share our library encounter and laugh at how silly it is that my life has been defined by chemistry. It is unfathomable to think that if I didn’t get Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t have gone to the University of Scranton and I wouldn’t have met him or had this awesome life. Crohn’s disease isn’t easy by any stretch, but by stepping back and recognizing my life wouldn’t be what it is and I wouldn’t have the little family we have makes me realize life may not be what you expected, but you get where you need to be.
To all of those reading, just let that sink in, you are where you need to be. Think about what has brought you to your current position in the journey of life, and even if it isn’t the brightest point, recognize that it is okay! I know I am approaching 30 and I still have no clue what I am going to do with my life after I graduate but I do know that no matter what, my best friend will be there along for the ride. Don’t spend time chasing what people expect you to do, and enjoy the serendipitous events that make up life.