December 9, 2019

LEE | Into the Unknown

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I decided to give myself a break over the weekend to relax and rejuvenate. I tend to do things in chunks such that I spend either a full day studying or a full day unwinding all at once. I realized, however, that I now have less than two weeks until graduation, and that I can’t leave spending time with and appreciating my friends here for later. So, with final papers and exams in the back of my mind, I went to watch Frozen II at Regal Ithaca Mall.

The scene where Elsa begins singing “Into the Unknown” particularly caught my attention. Besides the stunning visual effects and Idina Menzel’s graceful voice, I was most captivated by the eeriness of the melody that expressed Elsa’s sense of discomfort and desire for journey. In many ways, I realized that I am like Elsa, seeking to venture out into the world that lies beyond the confines of the Cornell bubble, but also a little intimidated by what unknowns I face and will have to overcome to become the best version of myself.

When I first set foot on the unknown land of Ithaca in August 2016, I thought that I would become a very different person by the time I graduate. Freshman me expected graduating seniors, with their experiences on campus — academic, extracurricular, personal — to be sophisticated and poised, soon-to-be productive members of society.

But now that I am actually at this stage, I realize that not too much has changed. I still overthink every little situation, wake up almost every morning regretting why I hadn’t slept earlier the night before and ignore my will to live healthier by exercising and reducing my instant ramen intake. I don’t feel ready to graduate, and I wish that I could slow down time to relive happy memories. I wish I would have spent more time looking at the bigger picture and embracing the life of a college student as part of a greater adventure rather than a series of prelims, papers and internships.

And through all the regrets and doubts, I also know that I have grown and developed during my time here. I have learned most to be more communicative, whether that is with others or to myself. At times, I was not outspoken enough and felt like I compromised my sense of self. I realize the need to be more expressive and candid when it comes to asking for help and seeking support when necessary. One thing that freshman me didn’t know that senior me now knows is that being resourceful is being comfortable with soliciting guidance from others.

Although my past three and a half years may sound dismal and full of regrets, I am truly thankful for the privilege of being a Cornell student. I will miss all the amazing people I’ve met, the beauty of the gorges and trees and the feeling of knowing that I am one of the thousands of other Cornellians who have left a mark to make this place what it is. As much as I complained, I love this campus, its people and all that it stands for (love is a strong word that I use with caution, but I do really love Cornell).

I am most thankful for my parents who have supported me through and through over the past three and a half years. Thank you for sending me to Cornell to give me the experiences that you never had, giving up literally everything you have to support me and Agnes. Thank you for teaching me to be thankful for what I have, for raising me up when I doubted myself and for teaching me to explore the greater world.

I came to Cornell with a 50-pound suitcase and so many hopes and dreams. I leave with a similar sense of mixed confusion and curiosity, alarmed with what lies ahead. I am still a little afraid, a little too comfortable here in Ithaca to embrace the uncertainty that lies ahead. I keep asking myself, is it ok to graduate with so much hesitation? Am I prepared enough? While I will never know the answer until perhaps another three and a half years, I know deep down that my time as a Cornellian now and beyond will serve as a stepping stone to venture out into the unknown.

DongYeon (Margaret) Lee is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at margaretlee@cornellsun.com. Here, There, Everywhere appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.