By Mea Donnelly
It’s honestly crazy to think that I am almost done with my first year at UIUC. No longer am I a silly in-state student who was deathly afraid to follow the crowd and be ordinary. I am not going to lie, two years ago I never thought I would be here making crazy late night memories with friends in a cornfield metropolis.
But here I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m at UIUC for a reason I am not 100% proud to admit, but I am here because of a boy — cue the symphonies of people claiming how horrible that reason is. Today the boy and I don’t talk, let alone cross each other’s paths, but I’m so entirely grateful that we did cross paths when we did.
Two years ago, even one year ago actually, I was dead set on not being like anyone from my high school. I was getting as far as possible from of the Midwest (UCLA to be exact), and I was never going to come back. But life didn’t happen that way. After a weird pre-prom incident, I had a true realization: I loved my friends, I loved the memories I had made, and I loved the person high school had forced me to become. So then I knew that my friends and I didn’t have to part ways at all – I could come with some of them down to UIUC and I didn’t have to totally give up the life I’d led before college.
Now, you are probably wondering how this shows why things happen for a reason. Well, had the pre-prom incident never happened, I wouldn’t be at the greatest place on earth. I wouldn’t have been shaped from my free bird high school self into a pragmatic, actual adult individual. I would never have met my best friend. I would never have been led down any of the paths I have found to be so wondrous, such as the Mock Trial team (my family on campus that I may or may not be obsessed with). I wouldn’t have gotten hundreds of memorable nights forged into my brain. I wouldn’t have become such a truly independent person. And I wouldn’t have written this story that you are currently reading (and hopefully thinking about).
Every single encounter, even the seemingly meaningless ones, happens for a reason: to put us on the path of life we are meant to take — even a high tide taking my phone’s life and forcing me to be off the grid while back in Los Angeles. That heartbreak had to happen, that car accident was a necessity, that bad grade was meant to bring you to the exact point in time where everything just works out. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald said, we are all boats beating against currents, but I believe these currents have direct paths that they are taking us on, so we can knock against other boats that are supposed to mean something to us.