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

If there’s one thing people should know about me is that I’m a deeply sentimental woman wrapped up in deluded casualness. For a while, I’ve talked about heading into my final year of university with a sense of aloofness and sarcasm. A couple of jokes here and there with an ingenuine excitement about the future. It’s always been how I handled change. Until the metaphorical anvil hits and suddenly change has me in a chokehold, forcing me to count my breaths in uneven seconds. The anvil hasn’t dropped yet, but addressing it feels like my way of pre-emptively managing the existential dread it’ll cause.

Existential dread is an umbrella term for a lot of my feelings. I think it perfectly encapsulates the looming unease of the future. Even graduating high school didn’t provide me with the same amount of simmering stress that I fear might bubble over. Back then, I thought I had the next decade of my life planned out. I’d do an undergraduate degree in something I have little to no interest in, then head to a passionless law school that might kick-start a career that I might actually want. I realized in my third year that I couldn’t handle all of that and finally told my mother that I couldn’t go to law school. It was difficult, but that brought me the freedom I had always wanted. At least that’s what I thought at the time.

As someone who’s conditioned herself into following strict rules all of her life, the freedom of choice scares me. The fact that I had the crutch of still being stuck in a program that I disliked meant that I was still playing it safe. Now that I have 8 months left, it feels like a ticking time bomb has been strapped to my chest. Because the moment I graduate, whatever I do with my life is whatever I want. There’s no blame to displace but to myself. And even if I had some blurry understanding of what I wanted, what if it wasn’t enough to make me happy?

And like I do with everything important, I’ve put those thoughts on the top shelf where I know I’d be too short to reach. Because even with all the festering in my mind, I still have to be physically present in university. Moreover, I need to start applying to graduate programs which is the first step into a life that I think I want. During my second semester, if I do get accepted, that means I will have to handle all the paperwork of renewing my student visa and applying for a work permit. On top of that, I will have to look for an apartment and a job because rent doesn’t pay for itself, especially in Toronto! Sometimes it feels like I’m wearing a pair of hiking boots twice my size with Mount Everest on the horizon as everyone stares at me with the expectation to conquer it.

But that’s adulthood. It’s doing the things you have to do to keep going and you just hope that when you tuck yourself into bed at night, whatever you’ve done amounts to something good, no matter how insignificant. Anyone who’s in their early twenties can attest that we dread those responsibilities. Especially as an immigrant, despite living a seemingly perfect life, our happiness is never guaranteed. I constantly see people around me getting what they want only to then realize it’s not what they wanted. But as an adult, it’s the bed we made, and we just have to lie in it until we’ve done enough self-reflection to want something else again.

To anyone who resonates with anything I’ve said, I want to reassure you that being in your head for the last 8 months of university won’t do you any good. I’ve always been the type to sit in my own nostalgia or cycle through future scenarios instead of breathing in the present. One of my goals for this year is to do things that I used to be apprehensive about, academically and personally. It’s so I can learn to find comfort in the uncomfortable; to prepare myself for the future. The dread will be ever-present, but I’d be doing myself a disservice if I let it keep me in a catatonic state for the last several months that I can still call myself a McMaster student.

Krissie Cruz is a National Writer for the Wellness department and a contributor to the Her Campus McMaster chapter. She writes a slew of topics but primarily focuses on all things culture, wellness and life. Aside from Her Campus, Krissie is currently a fourth-year political science student with a specialization in public law and judicial studies. She also has a minor in philosophy and an interest in applied social sciences research. Although her initial dream was to pursue law, her passion for writing has led her to a future in the publishing industry. Despite a shift in interests, politics and social justice hold a special place in her heart. In her free time, she spends hours binge-reading, taking film photography, and curating oddly specific Spotify playlists. She’s an active participant in the queer Toronto space by attending events and if her schedule allows it, volunteering for Pride Toronto.