It was while lying on a white, linen-covered aesthetician’s table on State Street last Thursday when I realized that Santa Barbara was no longer the place for me.

For the three years I had gone to school here, I had resolved to leave all salon matters for my trips back home. My loyalty lay with my favorite hairstylists, manicurists, masseuses and waxers in San Francisco, and Santa Barbara’s steep price lists coupled with my natural distrust of all things south of San Jose moved me to go relatively beauty procedure-free while in the 805.

Last Thursday, however, an unruly brow situation before a pending trip to Las Vegas forced me to head to the salon for a waxing, much to my disdain. After leaving an unfairly large chunk of change at the counter, I, rather gruffly, followed my waxer into the next room.

The following moments could only be described as face rape. She tore the cloth strips off my face with zero mercy or precision. I could feel my pores clogging from the thick, emollient-heavy goo she slathered messily all over my face to soothe the pain. From the tools she used to her clumsy hands, my eyebrows’ impending doom was imminent.

So when all was said and done, I could hardly feign excitement when she handed me a mirror to inspect her work. But instead of the disaster I had anxiously held my breath awaiting, I was met with something more disturbing than the experience itself: My eyebrows were stunning.

Yet even though my eyes looked smokin’, I didn’t have to think twice before knowing that I’d never come back again.

And, in essence, that half hour on my waxer’s table was much like my time at UCSB: painful, foreign and never feeling quite at home, but always with an end product so exciting and glamorous that the means always seemed to be worth it.

When you’re a young college student high on post-adolescent invincibility, Santa Barbara is nothing short of paradise. In a place where eye candy screams from every corner of your visual field, where you can find kegs in the afternoon and wear bikinis after dark, and where you can almost see its residents’ nonchalance drifting lazily through the salty ocean breezes, one can’t ask for a better place to unleash the raging hormones and thirsty livers of the average 18- to 24-year-old.

But though the Isla Vista experience is picture-perfect enough to make the directors of “Animal House” proud, there comes a time when even the craziest, happiest moments of our college lives are not enough. Whether we graduate, transfer or just move on, the fact remains that bigger and better things do exist outside Santa Barbara County.

It’s not easy to let go — of Isla Vista, of partying ’til dawn, of financial dependence, of beloved professors and of those we’ve grown to laugh and cry with over the course of our stay in this beachside paradise. But we have the image to hold on to — that picture-perfect image of friends and palm trees and hot Del Playa nights that will stay with us long after we depart.

So with that in mind, I leave some parting advice: Take all the pictures you can. Flirt. Get drunk on a DP balcony with your friends while the sun’s still out. Smile. Dress up more often. Take that Sanskrit class you’ve always wanted to take. Do cartwheels on the beach. Write for the Nexus. Study abroad. Cry.

But most of all, don’t let anyone keep you from being proud of who you are. Whether your passion is skin care products, lizard breeding or sexy redheads, there is a place and a purpose for you in this world. We weren’t all meant to be lawyers and doctors. Find your niche and embrace it.

There are a million ways to change the world, and maybe simply making it a prettier place to be is one of them. Keep the world pretty, my darling readers, in every way you can.

With a Vogue, an apple martini, her favorite lip gloss and feminine wiles at her disposal, Daily Nexus columnist Meghan Palma plans on someday conquering the world.