07/04/2013 11:44 pm ET Updated Sep 03, 2013

Sad, Happy, Excited and Everything In Between

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

I never thought I would say this, but I'm sad that high school has come to an end. May 28 -- the date of my commencement -- was one of the happiest and the saddest days of my life. It was one of the happiest because I got to receive my (honors!) diploma and stand on the stage as one of my high school's top 10 academic students. It was one of the saddest because I had to say goodbye to the friends I've made over the past four years. It felt like the end of an era. I'll miss my friends and -- believe it or not -- the fun I had. Even prom, which I once thought was just a bunch of sentimental mumbo jumbo and tacky glitter, was a blast. I'm proud to say that I danced like a socially awkward penguin and had the time of my life doing it! But, despite my predictions, I didn't shed a tear, because I was just too gosh-darn excited.

This year went by so fast. I can't believe that I'm done with all my AP classes: Lit, Calculus, Environmental Science, and Statistics. I can't believe that I've already graduated from Minds Matter. I can't believe that I'll never walk the halls of my high school again. I can't believe this is my last blog post for the Mission: Accepted series. Mostly, I can't believe that in only a few months, I'll be going to the University of Chicago and starting a whole new life--away from my friends and family. In the words of Taylor Swift, I'm "happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time," and "it's miserable and magical." (Yeah, I've listened to her song "22" with tears in my eyes more times than I care to admit.)

I want everything and nothing to change. I don't want to leave high school, or the people I've known my whole life, or comfortable, pleasant suburbia. At the same time, I desperately want to go to college and get a little distance from my overbearing-but-well-meaning parents and live in an exciting city. I want to stay. I want to go. I want to jump for joy. I want to cry. Does this make sense, or am I spewing a lot of teenage-angst-fueled nonsense? Maybe I should just go back to listening to Taylor Swift.

I keep thinking about how difficult it is to keep in touch with people long-distance. And about Chicago's rising crime rates and being on my own in a totally new, admittedly intimidating city. But there are so many things to be happy about:

1. I'm done with physical education. Goodbye to making a fool of myself during basketball games and feeling horribly, pathetically inadequate.
2. AP Calculus is over. YES.
3. Freshman orientation at UChicago isn't until September 22, so that means I have almost four months of summer break. BOO-YAH. Plenty of time to pack, research the school some more, fill out my housing application, and pray that my roommate isn't a kleptomaniac. Ideally, she'll be fun but still understand the importance of studying, smart but not Sheldon-Cooper-level-alienating-smart, and capable of discussing The Vampire Diaries and Korean boy bands for hours on end.
4. Everyone keeps telling me how beautiful and awesome Chicago is. I can't wait to see it for myself.
5. Damon and Elena finally got together on The Vampire Diaries. (Yes, I know that's totally unrelated to anything, but the fan-girl inside me is squealing with delight.)
6. In a few months, I'm going to be surrounded by thousands of cool, talented, intelligent people.
7. In four years, I'm going to have a degree from one of the best schools in the world and tons of opportunities at my feet. The world is my oyster, and I better be sure to taste every amazing, exciting, beautiful thing it offers.

Thank you to all of the readers who stuck with me through the good and bad times over the past year. Thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point. Thank you to my father, mother, and sisters for always encouraging me and helping me get the best and most out of my education. Thank you to my friends for commiserating about college applications and AP classes. Thank you to my teachers -- especially Mrs. Hsu, my Chinese teacher who always treated her class like a family, and Mr. Peoples, my AP English Language and Composition teacher who permanently imprinted the rhetorical triangle on my brain -- for making learning bearable, useful, and sometimes even fun. And thank you to the people of Minds Matter for offering me opportunities I wouldn't have attained without their constant support. I want to give a special thank you to Brent Shelley, who was with our class from day one, and my mentors, Alison Lee and Patty Shipacasse. When I needed someone to talk -- or vent -- to, they were always available and ready to listen. When I didn't believe in myself, they never failed to remind me of my talents and potential. When the college application process became overwhelming, they were more than willing to help me focus my essays. I hope to meet -- no, to exceed -- all of their expectations.