SENIOR COLUMN: When you can’t hold on, hold on


Caroline Builta, Photo submitted

Caroline Builta

For pretty much the entire time that I have been at UA, reading senior columns was my favorite part of the end of the year. I loved to see the people who I admired reminiscing on the best parts of their undergrad experience and their time in Tuscaloosa. I would often think about what I wanted to tell people when I had the chance to write a column, hoping that I would think of something profound to say. But I think that the most important lesson that I have learned in college is just that college isn’t necessarily the happiest time of your life. And that’s totally okay.

When I first started school, I had my future all planned out in my head. I would be best friends with all of my sorority sisters, get a #ringbyspring, move to a wealthy suburb of a major city in the Deep South and be a stay-at-home mom. Instead, almost everything that I thought I knew about myself and what I wanted dramatically changed. I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was doing, and even less of an idea of what I wanted to be doing.

It took a lot of time to work through all of my unresolved pain and start to figure out who I was. I spent many nights feeling totally numb and completely alone. But the longer college went on and the more I started to seek help and work on myself, those nights became outnumbered by the ones spent with friends, feeling surrounded by love. Nothing was ever perfect, but sometimes, things were good. I’ve learned to embrace being human, and to feel everything that I need to. I couldn’t have done that without the challenges that I’ve faced at UA.

There will never be a school that’s perfect for you. You will always be disappointed by something. You will always have someone that you don’t get along with. That’s just how life works. But it is these negative experiences and these hardships that make up who we are. I’m glad that I failed and that I struggled – when I walk across that stage on May 5, I will be carrying all of those things with me. I had so many nights when I couldn’t even envision making it to graduation. It is those nights that will make that morning even more special.

I have had nine majors during my time at UA. I transferred schools… and then decided to come back. I have joined and quit organizations, and I let people down more times than I can count. But I have gotten back up every single time. 

Three years ago, I was in the darkest depression of my life. In a few weeks, I’m going to grad school and moving to the city of my dreams. I found out that I didn’t need to be the president of everything, or get tapped into the most prestigious honors societies on campus, or graduate with a red cap. All I had to do was keep moving forward, one day at a time. 

Like I learned from the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and a lesson that applies to my time as a college student more than I thought it would – “You can do anything for ten seconds at a time. Then you just start on a new ten seconds.”

Caroline Builta is a senior majoring in history.