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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Harvard chapter.

I feel a lot of fear. A fear of uncertainty, a fear of failure, a fear of loneliness. I suppose it’s unsurprising that a lot of these fears got ramped up in this, the fall of my senior year at Harvard. I’ve experienced more change in these few months that I have in any other year here, from the transition of a relationship to the realization that I don’t need to continue on the post-grad path I’ve had cemented in my mind since before I even arrived on this campus.


(hiding from change in my favorite constant – bed)


If you’ve known me for pretty much any time at all, you’ll know that change is my least favorite thing in the world, since it’s the thing that scares me the most.

That isn’t to say that I avoid change. I’ve gone abroad to three different countries while being a student here, once to Italy alone and without ever haven spoken Italian. I’ve applied to leadership positions that I was petrified of failing at (and gotten them while still being petrified). I’ve picked up new skills, joined new clubs, found new friends. But that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid.

The answer to fear is to let it consume you.

No, that’s probably not good advice. Yes, I still think you should give it a shot. I am a huge fan of defense mechanisms. I love them. They keep you safe! They’re the greatest. But they’re also only successful temporarily. And the fact is, all they really do is contain your fears, letting them sit and stew until you’re ready to face them. So, try letting all the fear in. Let it wash over you, take in its weight. But then start fighting back.

Maybe you don’t know what you’re doing after college, maybe you don’t know where the people you love will be, maybe you’ll have to set out on your own. And maybe it won’t work out right away. Maybe it’ll be hard and scary. But maybe… it won’t. Maybe it’ll be wonderful and exciting because you are young and have a degree and a hell of a lot of tenacity and hope. And that’s the maybe you need to hold on to.

My new favorite statistic to tell about myself (is this not a category everyone keeps tabs on…?) is that I went to twice as many concerts in October of this year as I have been to in my entire life. Okay, so I had only been to two concerts before but hey, it’s still a fun fact. All of the concerts were incredible of course (live music is cool, pals), but one was especially enlightening. Let me set the scene: it’s a cold Tuesday night, I have a mountain of work, I forgot about the concert since we bought the tickets over the summer, and I haven’t heard one song that this band sings. I’m only going because I don’t want to let down my friends, who do know this band and actually care. We get to the Sinclair, I’m reluctant. We buy a drink, I’m thinking about my thesis.  The opening act starts playing, I’m reminded of someone I am deeply not ready to remember yet.

But then – magic. The band comes out. Their music is gorgeous, heart wrenching; it forces me to stop holding it together. My two best friends are on either side of me, totally enraptured. We’re singing along (it’s pretty easy to catch on to lyrics when everyone around you is shouting them, I can tell you that firsthand), crying a little, laughing a lot. That night I felt more than I had all semester. Yes, it caused the force of all my fears to hit me while my defenses were down. Yes, I was consumed by them as I thought about all the change and all the uncertainty and all the hurt I had been grappling with. No, my thesis draft didn’t get finished exactly when it needed to. But I was breathing again.

There are a lot of reasons to be afraid. There are also a lot of reasons not to be afraid. The first time you laugh after a break-up. The first late night talk with a new friend. The first time you find your way home without a map in a new city. Hold on to those and the rest will get easier, with time. I can promise you that much.

Zoë is a senior at Harvard studying English, French, and Classics. She is an active member of the theatre community as one of the few specialized stage makeup designers and artists on campus. When not in the dressing rooms and at the makeup tables of the various stages available at Harvard, she is reading anything she can get her hands on, drinking endless cups of tea, and exploring new restaurants in the Boston area.