Freshman year, it seemed like time moved so slowly. I couldn’t wait to be a sophomore. Now, it’s begun to dawn on me that time has flown by these last four years. As I registered for my last semester of classes of my senior year, I couldn’t help but reflect on how weird it felt — specifically, how weird it felt not knowing where I’ll be living in a year from now, what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be.
However, I reflected on how weird it would feel to finally know where I’ll end up. As a doe-eyed freshman, I had big hopes and dreams of attending medical school, confident that I could get in if I worked hard enough.
While I still have the same goals as a coffee-addicted and slightly jaded senior, I’ve come to the realization that dreaming of your goals is much better than the purgatory of waiting to see if you’ve actually accomplished them. Since applying to medical schools this past July, I’m at the mercy of them to notify me if I’m worthy enough of even an interview invitation, and hopefully after that, an acceptance.
If I don’t get in, then that means prepping for a reapplication and effectively putting my life on hold for another one or two years. But I can’t even definitively plan for that yet, as my future is unknown until I hear back from any school at all, which has slowly been nicking away at my sanity.
However, as I stir in my own personal torture, I look around and see fellow seniors sloshing around in the same boat as me. My lovely roommate, who is applying to 50+ jobs across the nation, is unsure which job position she will end up with, much less where she will be located. My freshman year roommate is applying to graduate schools up and down the east coast without the faintest clue of where she will end up. So, as it turns out, I’m not as alone as I thought I was. Alas, my struggles are all a part of the senior dilemma: the waiting game.
From the time we start school in kindergarten, there is a set progression for all of us. We progress to first grade, second grade and so on until we finish elementary school and enter the realms of middle and high school. From there, the path can slightly diverge, but at least for those of us at UF, we choose the next logical step of college.
However, now that the end of college is rapidly approaching, we seniors feel the anxiety of not knowing if we can reach the next step, or if that next step is the right one for us. The uncertainty is the worst part, especially for me, as I’m the type of person who has a back up plan for her back up plan.
However, we can’t let the uncertainty get to us, because one day, hopefully soon, we’ll know our fates. Even once we do know the next step, we must get comfortable with living in this perpetual uncertainty. The next points in our lives will not be carefully laid out for us to follow like a sidewalk. Instead, it will be a winding, bumpy trail with some quick decisions and rerouting required. There will be hard choices and compromises ahead, so enjoy the relative simplicity for now. If we go to the next step that we think is right and then quickly discover that it’s not, there are other options. There is no one linear path like we’ve previously followed; instead, your future is flexible and adaptable to new challenges and goals.
To deal with the anxiety, it helps to re-immerse yourself back into your present life instead of your future one. Focus on school but also enjoy your senior year by hanging out with your friends, enjoying your hobbies or just soaking in your senior year accomplishments. Make sure to say a proper goodbye to those you have met along the way or to the parts of college that you may never experience again, because they are all significant to your journey.
I have been working to slowly become more comfortable in the unknown and not let the fear of uncertainty hold me back from enjoying my senior year. While I am not perfect and I still have my moments of self-doubt, I know in my soul that whatever happens, I will be okay. I also know that you’ll be okay, too. After all, we wouldn’t be here at UF striving to reach our goals if we didn’t know how to work hard to accomplish them.
To my fellow seniors who will be graduating either at the end of this semester or the next, congratulations on all your accomplishments and dedication in pursuing your degree these past four or so years. I hope that we all learn to accept the uncertainty now before we start the next phase of our lives.