Seniors Starting Spring Semester

As we near the Hundred Days Dance, my common poll of other seniors has remained: are you ready to conquer the semester or are you sad? Are we avoiding ‘the g-word’ or are we awaiting the milestone of graduation with excitement?

Asking these questions frames how I am going to discuss the rest of the last semester I have with friends, classmates, and coworkers. I’ve gotten a mix of responses, and a mix of concerned and panicked faces. I’ve been sitting firmly in the camp of ‘ready to conquer the semester,’ but it seems like every email I get invokes nostalgia and the sense of the loss we will feel in a few short months. Some people are easily brought to tears by the thoughts of graduation, the stress and change inherent in finding something to do post-grad, and the anxieties of losing what we have come to know here. The world we have known as adults has been shaped by Notre Dame, and now we get to go out into it.

We are hurtling towards the last day we are college students. We have scheduled events to teach us about personal finance and cooking simple meals, and a countdown of the days we all have left together. We have constant reminders of the end of our lives as we currently know them. No more SUB movies on Friday nights, dining hall food, or free t-shirts at every low-attendance event. More seriously, no community of wonderful people our age, no assigned reading that turns out to be amazing, and no networks of people here to support and assist us.This rhetoric could even convince me to wallow in nostalgia for the next few months.

But I’m kind of excited to face the world beyond. I’m one of this graduating seniors who is pretty confident they are done with school forever, and I am embracing the concept of actual free time. No homework, exams, or papers, and hopefully no all-nighters. Free time will be actually free, and we will all be in the real world, not on a campus.  We will have the resources and time to choose our lives, make our lives what we truly want them to be without the constraints of this campus or even our families. We are making plans to move out, even if we may be returning home for a bit, to be so much more independent and ourselves then we are.

I spent today writing my own letter to Freshman Year Me. She knew nothing of what Notre Dame would hold. I can hope I am wiser now when I look forward, but considering how little I knew of what my life would become four years ago, I’m not counting on it. The future is hurtling toward me, and I can set goals and dream and make plans to give it my best shot, even when I can’t imagine what my life will be four years from now. And I know I am not alone in my uncertainty of what the future will hold.

It will be new. It will be unprecedented. It will be fear-inducing at times. It will be something wild and difficult and lonely. It will be my life.  

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