Welcome to my first blog post after my hiatus! Now that that whirlwind of a year is over, and I’m not constantly surrounded by distractions, I’ve gotten quite a bit of appreciated quiet time back in Seattle. I’m interning at Microsoft this summer, which also means I get to stay at home and catch up with the fam.

But not before I share some of the lessons that really resonated with me over the past year.

My first term was incredibly tough. I took on a full course load, on top of playing volleyball for Caltech. That’s struggle that every athlete here faces. Caltech itself is so time-consuming that putting another two hours a day on top of that due to athletics requires a lot of great time management. Which I failed at. About halfway into my season, I sprained my ankle, rendering me immobile save for the crutches and boot I now sported. I had a hard time getting to my classes, getting food, going to office hours, and going to practice to cheer on the team, which left me pretty miserable. But for some reason, I was still pretty adamant that I was going to do It all.

That was just dumb. I mean, yes, I managed to do it all, but poorly. I got the lowest GPA I’ve ever had in my career. I missed more meetings that I’d like to admit. I forgot a few friends’ birthdays. It was a mess, but thankfully a mess I’ve actively avoided since. Saying no to different opportunities has always been hard for me, but that term made me realize I didn’t have a choice. If I want to do the things I love and do them well, I can’t do everything.

My second term, I took a chance on myself and ran for IHC (Interhouse Committee) Chair, which is generally a position held by a rising senior. In hindsight, I didn’t have much of a chance. With less than two years under my belt, I hadn’t really gotten the experience or the exposure I needed to run rotation. I’d only experienced it once as a prefrosh and once on the other side. But nonetheless, the experience of campaigning and discussing campus issues amongst my peers was incredibly rewarding. The more I talked to students, the more impassioned I became to represent them. Sure, when election day rolled around, I was disappointed I didn’t win, but that wasn’t the right place for me anyway. I was interested in student body culture as a whole, not the houses.

Putting myself out there was scary. I realize I probably came off as an arrogant sophomore who thought she was wise beyond her years. But, it’s an opportunity that I’m thankful for and one that’s brought me here as student body president.

Finally, I came to Caltech with a really tight set of friends. We hung out with each other twenty-four/seven. We would sleep in each others’ rooms, work on every set together, and eat every meal together. I loved them a lot, and I still do. But with different majors and extracurriculars getting in the way, we drifted apart. We still have the occasional brunches and chats during parties. I felt like my world was falling apart when these friendships that I thought I would have for the rest of my life started fading. But people change. I changed. My priorities became different. I gave my all to student government and the volleyball team, and slowly those groups started to become my best friends. It was time for me to realize that my relationships are constantly evolving and that’s okay. It’s impossible to take everyone on this journey with you, but all that matters is that you remember the impact everyone’s made. I wouldn’t have come to Caltech without the encouragement of my friends from high school, and I wouldn’t have joined Fleming House without the friends I made on the volleyball team. I wouldn’t have launched myself into student government without the support of former student leaders. So sure, we’ve drifted apart, but I’ll always be thankful for the difference they made in my life and the memories they’ve left behind.

So on that sad, nostalgic note, I am thrilled for the summer ahead: starting a new job, meeting up with old friends, infinitely more free time to spend on myself. Here’s to these three months before it all starts up again! Cheers, Sakthi Vetrivel