Dear Class of 2014,
This is it. This is our year, the one that has been stamped on our class shirts and resumes since the beginning of our college year. This is a Big Year for us. This is one of those life events that happen to us, whether we are ready or not.
I’m not ready.
And I have a suspicion that amid the champagne and celebration, among the parties and people, there are others who find themselves adrift and anchorless in the adventure of senior year.
This letter, really, is for you.
At first, I was going to share my own resolutions for the New Year. The tactics and lists I have made to try to conquer 2014, to try to wring every ounce of fun and joy and youth out of it.
Then I realized that I didn’t want to share a how-to for this year. There is, I suspect, no how-to, no plans of action that work best for all of us, no real way to plan for this year. It is still too young to try to plot its future before it.
Instead, I just wanted to write to say the following:
Senior year is stressful. It’s fun, yes, and it is liberating and exciting and promising and all those wonderful things, but it is also stressful. Our lives are in flux. Our certainties are being stripped away— our homes, our friends, our daily lives— and the promises of the future are still ethereal and abstract.
Everyone tells us that these are the best years of our lives. It makes it seem as though this year in particular, 2014, must be our year. Live now, or forever hold your peace.
I keep viewing graduation as a death sentence, and so watching the ball drop felt like taking another step towards my execution. Time feels like the enemy. May 2014 feels like an expiration date stamped on my youth.
I keep pre-emptively mourning the loss of Notre Dame. I keep speaking of the future in macabre and apocalyptic tones, and behaving as though I will suddenly go bad the second I step off the stage with my diploma, as though I will forget how to have fun as soon as I leave college.
So I guess, for me, the message I need right now is: stop it. Stop painting a dystopian future, and stop grieving graduation.
Instead, I am just going to live moment to moment.
I know I’m graduating, and I’m going to try to pack. Not in a fatalistic sense, where I stop caring about college because it’s almost over. Instead, I mean the opposite: I’m going to try to use every second in this year to build to a brighter future filled with happy memories of a wonderful final semester. Now is the time to build and maintain friendships, to make mistakes, to fall on our faces and see who will be there to help us back up.
In short, I’m going to try to limit the Netflix. Maybe I’ll even put on pants and go visit a friend outside my house.
I’m going to try to have as much fun as I possibly can, and I think you should, too.
So I guess my message is this: losing a school as epic as Notre Dame sucks. But we’re not alone. We have each other. And we will always have Notre Dame. Our futures are still bright and shiny and unblemished. This year is not a death, but a birth, and I know I need to revise my thinking on it to start seeing it as such.
Who knows where we will find ourselves this time next year? 2015, for most of us, will be almost all new. But now is not the time to worry about that.
Now is the time to build an absolutely amazing 2014, and I look forward to working on a great year with you guys.
So, thank you for a great three years, and I cannot wait to see just how happy this new year can be.