Senior Year & the Fear of Figuring It Out

todaySeptember 27, 2019 152

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By Paola Bakker
Web Content Contributor

Senior year, baby! The time to blow off your work and live it up, right? More like shoving resume-builders, classes and a social life all into one mess of a year.

Senior year is a stressful time, with thoughts of entering the real world looming over our heads. Whether you’re looking forward to being done or dreading college coming to an end, post-grad life is without a doubt going to come with a lot of changes. 

Even back in high school I would consistently hear my peers talk about what a breeze senior year is, “Who cares anymore? We’ll be in college soon and none of this will matter.” Meanwhile, I was up to my ears in AP classes and college applications. Everything felt like it did matter.

I felt like getting into a prestigious college was the buildup to all of my years of hard work, and I wasn’t about to finish my 18-year-long marathon by walking to the finish line. Eventually, my hard work did pay off, and I was accepted and attended a somewhat “prestigious” school in the Northeast, which I ended up realizing it was nothing like I imagined. After a year, I transferred to Texas State — but that’s a story for another time. 

The point is, I spent my senior year of high school so worried about the future that I stopped focusing on the present. I ended up realizing that after finally reaching my goals, they weren’t at all what I wanted. As history repeats itself, I again am so worried about post-grad life that the anxiety is preventing me from enjoying my final year of college.

When I vent about this fear of the inevitable post-grad life to some of my friends or classmates, I get a few confused looks. “Nah,” they’d say, “I can’t wait to get out of here and never take an exam or write an essay again.” A part of me envies their eagerness for the real world. I suppose I find comfort in the structure and routine of school, and it’s going to be something I miss. 

It’s not that I love exams or quizzes or projects or grades or essays. Like everyone else, I hate the stress that comes along with all of those things. But after so many years of being in school, I don’t know what it’s like to live in a world without them. How am I supposed to measure my success without grades?

No one in the real world is going to give you an A for doing a good job at being an adult. A YouTuber, Ashley (bestdressed), recently graduated from University of California, Los Angeles. She voices this crisis pretty well in one of her videos.

In addition to this little existential crisis, I am living with the unfortunate regrets that I didn’t do college “right.” I spent my freshman year at that prestigious university stuck at rock bottom, spending most of my days sheltered in my dorm room. It felt safe and it was the closest feeling of home I could find. 

Thankfully, I made the right decision for myself and chose to transfer to a school in my home state, but I spent my sophomore year adjusting to a new place again. I felt just as much as an alien to this school than I did to my last one. I noticed myself acting like someone else in an effort to attract personalities I admired, but it predictably did not work. I saw the inauthenticity in myself and couldn’t bear to let it live on.

It wasn’t until my junior year where I finally started growing close to people and forming real connections. San Marcos started to feel less like a foreign land and more like a home I loved. I grew to love the oak trees that draped over me, the rolling hills and the familiar smiles around me. I feel like I am just finding my place here, and it is soon coming to an end, with no hint as to where things will take me after graduation.

As the cliché says, all good things must come to an end. It is useless to live with regrets, and I hope during this year I can come to appreciate the time I’ve had and the people I’ve met without the feelings of wishfulness that it happened sooner.

While the next year holds uncertainty, and the thoughts of job searching and growing up are terrifying, it’s important to remember that everything is going to be okay. You are going to figure things out, and even if things don’t go according to plan, things may work out better than you thought. Hopefully I’m not the only one dealing with a senior year crisis, and if you’re feeling the same way, just know, I’m right there with you.

Featured image by Paola Bakker.

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