05/27/2014 06:19 pm ET Updated Jul 27, 2014

Moments of Focus

I call them moments of focus -- when everything blurs then sharpens, ringing between cloud and crystal until there's this brief perfect clarity. And in an instant it feels altogether like the world is larger than it's ever been and smaller than it's ever felt. And then it kind of retreats again, like you'd never made sense of it at all.

It's when the car runs out of gas at 2 a.m. and the snow is a foot deep, it's 15 degrees at most and you fumble with the canisters. It's the cheesecake. It's Route 32. It's the night you say you're just going to watch a movie, and you do the thing you're not supposed to do -- and then you do two more. It's the moment you know: This is going to matter.

As I watch my friends in the Class of 2014 squeeze in their last all-nighters and complaints about the weather, I can't help but think of when I received my acceptance to Cornell. And the thing is, I can't really remember that day.

I know it was extraordinary in all the ways extraordinary things are: Fat and flashy. Things that come with colored streamers, Facebook posts and a drunk uncle. It's your acceptance to Harvard Law School, your offer from Google and that internship with Morgan Stanley.

I am unimaginably grateful to attend Cornell, and it's afforded me countless opportunities that I would be a fool not to prize. But the moments I remember have nothing to do with acceptance letters or first kisses or last goodbyes. They're deeply unimpressive and laughably unextraordinary: They're just the in-between bits.

The big moments are never as clean as graduation or acceptance -- it's all the stuff that's frivolous and random and misshapen in the middle. The dumplings. Or when she asks to borrow your deodorant and you know you're really friends. The box in the gorge. When she makes you fish sticks and plays with your hair, and you know if all else fails there's always the microwave and your shared lack of shame in calling psychic hotlines. It's even that time you did the bad thing to the good person, or stared at a silent telephone like all of the other silly girls, and realized you're no better.

So whether you're graduating with amazing plans, or none at all, I don't think it really matters much. The days that we'll remember are those unremarkable, messy ones -- the ones that don't beg to be remembered. The humble ones. And I'll live for those days when we ate, we cried, we napped and danced -- over that one day we walked.

I don't think it should matter so much how extraordinary our lives are at 21, so long as we collect as many of those delusional little moments of focus when, briefly, you feel like the whole mess of it all somehow makes complete sense. I don't think any of it matters so much as we leave with one hell of a story.