Courtesy of Buena Park High School

May 24, 2024

Yi | Regrets and All

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Regret. It’s the feeling that lies at the pit of every stomach, feeding on insecurities and stopping progress at any stage of life. However, it’s particularly unforgiving to those experiencing major milestones. As a graduating senior, it’s almost impossible to look back on my four years without regrets — it’s a rite of passage.

When my head finally rests onto my pillow before bed, I’ll begin to think of all the awkward or embarrassing interactions that I’ve had on campus and replay the moments over and over. I’ll wince and wish I had said something different to those people that I met in my first year of college and have never spoken to since.

Other times, I’m sitting comfortably on the grass at the top of the slope, wishing I had spent more time enjoying the view of Cayuga Lake reflecting the sky’s colors, surrounded by lush trees taller than I can fathom that blur into the curves of the mountains. Then I’ll feel that melancholic feeling surface and remember that come August, I will not be coming back to campus to catch the last sunsets before classes begin.

However, I wouldn’t change my undergraduate experience for anything, and despite its challenges, my Cornell experience is something I will never regret. 

Cornell is not easy. It’s one of the most difficult yet rewarding places to learn and grow in. The person who I am now is not at all the person I had anticipated on becoming, but I would not have it any other way, and I owe it to all the students, faculty and staff that I met here and learned from.

Cornell taught me to love learning. The Sun taught me how to love people.

All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell stories — those of the people around me, the people closest to me and even people I have never met before. I knew that at Cornell, I would join The Sun. I knew there would be all kinds of stories to hear and tell here. I didn’t know just how much I would learn from the people behind them. These stories to this day have helped shape me into the person I am today.

When I first started as a writer, one of my favorite parts of writing for The Sun was interviewing. The pressure of missing information scared me, while the idea of hearing others’ stories excited me.

Whether I was discussing the first-year experience with peers during the height of the pandemic, hearing a former-student-now CEO’s new business ventures with Cornell Tech or recording passionate sentiments from students and faculty on the death and destruction in Gaza, my heart always fluttered with a combination of nerves and anticipation for the diverse perspectives that I would come to learn.

I always nitpicked my interviews wishing I had done so many things differently or better. But now, I can barely remember the questions that I missed in my interviews or the pace at which I spoke. I can’t remember the order that I discussed the topics in or the days that I scheduled them. But I do remember how satisfying it felt to close a Zoom meeting, stop a recording or end a phone call knowing that I learned a little more about the people and communities around me, and that I would be helping others to do the same.

There is a period of time in which regret becomes remembering. Remembering turns to reminiscing, and then you can’t remember what you were disappointed in at all. For that moment, it will have been worth it. 

When I graduated from high school, I sat in a rocking chair in front of my TV, adorned in my graduation cap and gown, legs crossed and fingers tapping the wooden armrests, waiting for my name to appear on the YoutubeLive video stream. My family clapped for me in our living room for the eight seconds my portrait appeared on the screen before it went to the next person. I quietly clapped my way to the end and didn’t know which side to turn my tassel to when the screen turned black. I tried to smile but it didn’t feel properly over.

This year, when I walk to Schoellkopf stadium, baking under the sun in my cap and gown, hearing the roaring claps from faculty, staff and families, I know I won’t be able to help but smile this time and feel like I did it right — regrets and all. 

Estee Yi is a graduating senior from the College of Arts and Sciences. She served as a Senior Editor on The Sun’s 141st Masthead and News Editor on the 140th Masthead. She can be reached at [email protected].