Two weeks ago, a dreaded email arrived in my inbox. You’re probably expecting a job rejection or notification for an exam, but this message was much simpler. The subject line read, “Invite to Info Session for Graduating Students.” Although unassuming and plain, it sent me into a week-long spiral, resurfacing worries I’ve tried to push down.
OK, maybe I’m being dramatic — but the point is, the reality suddenly set in: I’m about to enter my last year of university. In less than a year from now, I’ll be done with my education for the first time in my life. I’ll grow to accept the unknown, and share fears among the other scared, unemployed recent grads. And most of all: My adulthood will truly begin. My heartbeat quickens and my mind races when I think about this too much. Because the truth is: I’m not ready to graduate, and this likely won’t change in a year.
Now, I hate to pull this card, but these anxieties are only exacerbated by the fact that my university experience has been shorter than most. Us seniors essentially lost the first year and a half of college because of the pandemic — and on top of that, we never got a truly normal senior year in high school (yep, I’m a 2020 high school grad, and I won’t ever stop talking about it). Most of us are unprepared to escape from our beloved safety nets, and are itching to just make this final year count.
That’s why I’ve since converted this fear into action. I’m not going to spend my senior year awaiting graduation like it’s doomsday. Instead, I’m going to do everything in my power to enjoy it. That way, when I graduate, I’ll hopefully have no regrets about how I spent my time, and all my college bucket list items will be checked off.
Stress less about schoolwork.
You may have picked up on this by now, but I’m the kind of person to stress about pretty much anything I can, and school is no exception — a classic type-A overachiever. I’ve spent years worrying about my average, overanalyzing my essays prior to submitting them, and wasting time in analysis paralysis. But this year, I aim to scale it back.
That doesn’t mean goofing off all the time, though — it just means working smarter, not harder. I’ll give myself time off when I deserve it, and grow comfortable with just clicking “submit.” I’ve spent too many days refusing to completely enjoy an event for fear of the next day’s tasks, ditching plans to go to bed early, and writing frustrated journal entries about group projects gone awry. Instead, I’ll silence my worries about school during my precious leisure time.
Take advantage of living in the same city as my friends.
Arguably the best part of my university is my friends — I could write a whole love letter just explaining how much they mean to me. Living just a few steps from my favorite people has been the greatest gift, and I won’t take it for granted anymore.
Accommodating friends’ different schedules and priorities can be tough, but I’ve heard it only gets harder when you’re not living in the same place anymore. That’s why I plan to organize more impromptu get-togethers, study dates, and girls’ nights, maintaining my closeness with the people who have stuck by me these past few years. Sure, they may grow annoyed with my constant “Anyone wanna hang out tonight?” and “Who wants to walk to Starbucks?” messages — but they’ll thank me a year from now!
Plan more celebrations and fun events.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we all lost several years of opportunities to live it up. My celebrations of finally being legal (19 in Ontario) consisted of yet another quarantine birthday, and the biggest ragers I attended in my first year of university were made up of 10 people from our residence COVID bubble, squished into a tiny single bedroom.
I’m eager to return to university with my friends this year so I can make the most of my evenings and weekends. This doesn’t just mean going out to parties — it can also mean dinners out, birthday events, and small gatherings at a friend’s place. This is also the last year we’ll be able to participate in our university’s homecoming festivities or enjoy Halloween on campus, so we should enjoy it.
Simply put, I’m looking to make more memories without being shameful, judgemental, or anxious. It’s our last year, and we deserve to celebrate that.
Participate in activities on campus and in my university town.
Not only will this be my final year as a student, but I’ll also be living in my university town for the last time. And you’d be surprised how many events there are going on, school clubs you can join, and restaurants you have yet to try. (I recommend following an Instagram account highlighting activities in your city, which is bound to give you inspiration.)
Just because you’re a senior, doesn’t mean you have to tune out and disassociate from the community. There’s no harm in trying something new, or delving deeper into a club or hobby you’ve found. In my case, I’m going to attend more dance classes, cheer on varsity teams at their games, and take on new positions within my favorite school clubs — but the choice is up to you!
Document my memories, while ensuring to live in the moment.
No matter how much we fill our days, the inevitable end to university will come around at some point. We’ll hopefully have a newfound sense of fulfillment and preparation to enter the real world, but most importantly, we’ll have also made countless more memories.
In my years post-grad, I imagine myself looking back on my senior year with a sense of warmth, laughing and reminiscing with my friends. And as days blur together, perhaps the best way to do this is to document your time. You can do this in the form of camera roll photos, TikToks, journal entries, or you can do what I do: Start a private story with nobody on it, and post whatever you want. This removes the inevitable toxicity that comes with excessive posting with an audience, whilst still ensuring you have documentation of all those hilarious memories and blurry nights.
But of course, don’t get lost in the digital aspect of it all — just take a photo or two and put your phone away. I’ll be doing my best to bask in the enjoyment of all the overwhelming emotions that come with university. The point is: Don’t let the uncertainty of the future stop you from enjoying the moment.
Seniors: I know we’ve been through quite a bit over these past few years, but this is our year! Remember what Andy from The Office said in the show’s final episode: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve left them.” We’re lucky enough to still be in them — so let’s make the most of it.