It’s finally here–senior year! I’m finally 21 (so are all my friends), I know my way around campus like the back of my hand, and have gotten pretty used to living 1,000 miles away from home. So, why do I feel so bad? Welcome to Senior Season, a time full of grappling with the enjoyment of college while being particularly aware of some ticking clock.
Senior year brings with it a distinct sense of urgency. All of sudden, you (or maybe just me) start looking at annual activities like football season or Halloweekend as the last time for it all–at least in college. I have felt this feeling grow increasingly stronger this semester, as I am graduating in December while my friends stay until spring. Everything has now been tinted with a subtle, yet annoyingly present, shade of blue. Even through the typical excitement of the first game of the season, there was something gnawing in the back of my mind that whispered, “enjoy it while it lasts.”
I have not been a stranger to the importance of my youth. Ever since high school, I had the feeling that this time in our lives, this limbo between childhood, our teenage years, and entering adulthood, was special, was important. Carrying this well-acknowledged appreciation helped me take in these adolescent events and immerse me in all its highs and lows. It is a gift to experience every bit of growing up and making mistakes, but with college coming to an end, I have been struggling to make peace with the idea that this special something is inevitably coming to a close. My friends for the last four years won’t be in the same city anymore, my unique set of college problems will be replaced by the demands of the professional world, and I’ll go from being a senior in college to another twenty-something year old. As with any change, this shift comes with a lot of growing pains.
So, how do you deal with the inevitable fact that life will differ from the last four years you knew? You just do. You think about the younger version of you that decided to come to your school, the friends you made and lost, the mistakes made, the cringe moments you wanted to disappear from, and the beautiful and natural evolution that wound up making yourself more authentically you. At least that’s how I’m coping for this one last semester. I came into college as a homebody who felt safest bundled in the comfort of everything I knew. This knowledge of the curved roads of my hometown, the friends I’ve known for most of my life, and the idea that I was someone who couldn’t handle change, someone who didn’t need it like other people. I was cemented in who I was at 18 years old (honestly even earlier), but coming to college forced me outside my comfort zone– especially at a school that ripped me away from the shelter I cradled myself in. I opened up more, tried new things, and started saying yes more. I started asking classmates to get coffee, went on a week-long camping trip for the first time, and chatted with people everywhere I went. I would have fought tooth and nail in high school defending who I thought I was at 18. Now, after passing limits my high school self never would have entertained, I see that I still don’t fully know who I am, but am much more willing to keep finding out.
There is not some secret code to wrestling with the idea of being a senior and leaving this stage of your life behind (if you do find one, though, definitely let me know). Like almost all things in life, it is complicated and it changes every day and nothing can actually prepare you for it until you do it. So, I will just continue to let that little voice in my head, tinted blue, tell me to enjoy every moment left of the transformative journey through college. I am a better person for these last four years, and I know whenever I need that energy again, I can call up my fellow Buffs whenever. Just as 18-year-old me was dreading life away from comfort, 21-year-old me is just as hesitant about the next chapter. I look forward to proving myself wrong again.
Congratulations to all Seniors graduating in Fall 2023 and Spring 2024. Enjoy it, take it in, hug your friends, and, as always, Sko Buffs.