The Best Four

It’ll be the best four years of your life. 

Those words echoed through my mind as I packed up my plastic bins packed with too much junk, closed the trunk on my high school years, and headed off into the big girl world of college. My eagerness ran wild with images of how my picture perfect dorm room would be decorated, all the new friends I would make, the tough but worthwhile classes for my pre-determined major, and how I would live up to that attainable phrase within the first month of college.

Then there was change.

I started college. And everything I was thought I was “supposed” to do, be, experience; the complete opposite happened. I became weak in so many areas; educationally, mentally, physically, and emotionally. All those ideas of college “heaven” went to hell. I was at my lowest of lows.

Then there was change.

Before I knew it, the moments I constantly wished away from my memory started changing. I started becoming better, doing better, slowly but surely getting the hang of classes, communities, the Seattle culture and this whole college life. And every time I did fall or fail, I learned to get up faster and fiercer. Happiness went from completely non-existent to something I came to be familiar with and accepting of. As fast as I was trying to run to the end, my heels slowly started digging their way into the dirt.

Because this is change.

College is not a place, an educational institution, a building, or the name of a school. Rather, it’s a time, its a phase, right between adolescence and adulthood, where transformation occurs in the deepest places of your being, without even realizing it. All those words of wisdom; that you’ll meet your best friends, that you’ll make mistakes, and that you’ll “find who you are”, in the least cheesy way possible, are all absolutely true.  For me, all those things did happen, but not in the way I had or could ever imagine.

So, has it been the best four years of my life? That depends what your definition of “best” is. To me, I’m not so sure. Because not every moment ever is or was daisies. But was it the most challenging, faith-growing, experiential, self-discovering, world-traveling, lesson-learning, joy-filled-moments four years of my life? That I can say, with absolute certainty, yes.

While this is not an extensive list, looking back on the blink of four years, I thought I’d share some of my “best four” in the last four years….

Four Achievements

  1. Being accepted into the Foster School of Business
  2. Running (and completing) my first half-marathon
  3. Getting to be an exchange student in Milan, Italy
  4. Graduating (!!! …am I jinxing it by writing this now?)

Four University of Washington student things

  1. Football tailgating season
  2. When the cherry blossoms bloom
  3. The fireplace in Paccar Hall
  4. Throwing your dubs up

Four New Experiences

  1. Paragliding
  2. Kickboxing
  3. Swing-dancing
  4. Aerial yoga

Four Cities 

  1. Rome, Italy
  2. Seville, Spain
  3. Hvar, Croatia
  4. Syracuse, Italy

Four Trips

  1. Ireland– Dublin, Dingle, Killarney, Cork
  2. Spain- Madrid, Toledo, Alicante, Valencia, Mallorca
  3. California- Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, San Francisco
  4. Switzerland– Zurich, Interlaken, Geneva, Lucerne, Gruyere, Lausanne

Four Meals 

  1. Steak at Keens Steakhouse- New York, New York
  2. Pizza. Period. – Rome, Italy
  3. Ceviche at La Mar- Lima, Peru
  4. Fish at Konoba Kaleeta- Hvar, Croatia

Four Things in/near/about Seattle

  1. The Seahawks winning the SuperBowl
  2. Going to the tulip gardens
  3. Running around Lake Union and Greenlake
  4. Living in the Pacific Northwest

Four Life Events

  1. Moving into a new house
  2. My mom recommitting her life to Christ
  3. Turning 21
  4. Learning Italian

Four Lessons:

  1. God always provides
  2. Do what you want to do
  3. I am human
  4. Live in the moment

Four Moments

1. Sleeping under the stars in the Moroccan desert: On my exchange semester, I went a bit out of my comfort zone and travelled to Morocco with who I now consider some of my closest friends. In the middle of the night, we trekked through the cool, fine sand up to the top of one of the hundreds of dunes and watched the stars light up the wide expanse of what seemed like never-ending Saharan desert. Being completely removed from the world, with nothing but the sky and the stars, I felt swallowed by the universe, but filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. How little and scrawny I am in this big, big world, but how massive and wonderful is God. I am just a tiny speck in God’s huge universe, yet He knows each of us individually, intimately and as specifically as the grains of sand I was sitting on. God is so much bigger, so much greater than all we know. Out of all this, the greatest Power calls each and every one of us His, all we have to do is sit in awe of His majesty, His grace and His love.

2. Meeting Daniel in Peru: While traveling with my parents, something so iconic in our three musketeer dynamic, we came to Peru as three, and left as four. On our way back from Machu Picchu, we sat next to a nice young man on the train; first a stranger, hours later a friend, and now what we would all consider family. All around the world, despite different languages, different religions, beliefs, histories, cultures, there are people. People full of joy, full of love, full of weakness and struggles, full of hopes, and interests and stories, all as similar as we are different. We are all humans, all living beings meant and created to be in relationship with each other. At the root of it all, we are all made up of skin, bones, and a heart, and we get to add whoever we want to add to our family. Fast forward one more year and two visits in two countries later with Daniel, and I am grateful not only for the family I was born with,  but for the family I have met, made, and get to continue making as I continue on this new phase of my life.

3. Going to Canada with Makayla: There is something to be said about going new places, making new friends, and yet not forgetting where you came from. Not everyone has had the blessings I have had to grow up in such a privileged home and solid community, but it is really those few, quality friends that I cannot help but be grateful for. This trip with one of my best friends wasn’t just one of my favorites because of the trip itself. Heck, we’ve been to Ireland together and I still choose this trip over that one, the reason being not because of where I was, but who I was with, the sense of home and depth of this friendship to take along with. Having each other as a foundation, through times of strength and weakness, success and failure, happiness and mourning, and not giving up despite our distance, makes friendships like this that much more special to me and something I will hold onto far beyond these four years.

4. Finishing my capstone class:  I’m not even sure how this one made the list, but it does. Technically, the definition of this class was “a required capstone course that challenges teams of students to develop and present a viable solution to a Seattle-based business on a current strategy issue”. In my mind, it was a class that I spent more time sending GIFs and laughing at stupid jokes with my team than actually listening  to or, I’ll admit, caring about anything going on. Despite making it to semi-finals in the case competition (Go team!), that wasn’t the actual victory. Rather, the true victory was the connections I made, not only in this team, but over my four years at UW that span a wide variety of communities, cultures, and camaraderies. I’ve learned and laughed with many, and every single person has taught me so much. They’ve taught me little things like how to use Google Docs like a pro, to bigger things like not taking life too seriously. Looking back, when I think of whether or not the University of Washington was the right choice for me, I am reminded of all the opportunities I have had to meet all the amazing and talented people I have met, which leaves me with more skills, more friends, and more memories than I had upon entering.

In the end, college was never about the grades or the midterms, the efficiency, the events, dare I say the places or the meals, but the people. Not just the people, but the friendships, the relationships, anyone and everyone that has become a part of my family. Honestly, I could go on forever about all the things that have shaped me in the last four years, but then it would probably be another four years by the time I finished that list. With my last four days of classes left ahead, I am now faced with the inevitable question: “What now?”

Well, the only thing I know for sure….

is that things will change.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

7 Comments

  1. Bryce Matheson
    March 6, 2017 / 2:52 am

    Soleil, you kick ass. This post rocks! Really. Congrats on graduating, too. Mine was super bitter-sweet, but it looks like you’re doing great things.

    • soleilroth
      March 8, 2017 / 1:59 am

      Thank you so much! I hope all is well with you too.

  2. LaVonne Praino
    March 6, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    You are simply amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your adventures and lessons learned. Congratulations!!

    • soleilroth
      March 8, 2017 / 2:00 am

      Thank you LaVonne, that means alot!

  3. Sharla Marshall
    March 7, 2017 / 3:14 am

    Soleil, your writing is amazing, as is your insight, your faith, your accomplishments and your beautiful spirit. Great things await you!

    • soleilroth
      March 8, 2017 / 2:01 am

      Thanks love, couldn’t have done it without you! 🙂

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