How It Feels To Start The Last Semester (Ever) Of University

 

When I was younger, I (like most others in the early 2000s) watched the film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”. Most were probably caught up with Blake Lively and her in-your-face glamour and effortless sex appeal, but I always focused more on the shy and artistic Alexis Bledel. In the second movie, the girls all go away to university and there’s a scene from that film that still shuffles into my mind when I think of higher education and adulthood.

Alexis Bledel’s character walks through her campus to be greeted by none other than the smoking hot Greek boy, Costas, from her previous summer (because they’re always just mulling about campus, right?).  She’s dressed uber professional and looks like she totally has her shit together. Her hairs pulled back, she’s wearing a blouse, and she courageously and elegantly tells Costas to take a hike.

From then on, I always thought I’d be like that once I got to university. I’d wear pencil skirts, and blouses, and maybe even heels. I’d be a real live adult, with a schedule, and a planner, and groceries, and I’d cook myself amazing meals and have amazing adventures and meet foreign boys who appeared to be chiseled from stone. The parties would be endless and always have 300+ attendees. And then after I would get that expensive piece of paper and go out and do things in the professional world whilst living in a pinterest-worthy apartment. Like one seamless hop into maturity.

As someone who has now endured and (somewhat) successfully conquered 7 semesters of undergrad, I can assure you that university and maturity don’t work like that.

I’m 21 years old and yesterday I realized I had both marker and what appeared to be mustard on my t-shirt. I have absolutely no idea how to use spices, but I’m pretty sure putting roasted garlic and red pepper seasoning on everything is a good way to approach life. I still use the word “dude” way too often and sometimes accidentally in the company of scholars. I have vacuumed my room a total of 5 times since living in my student house and I think that’s real progress. My stuffed animal, Hanna the Hippo, still has a place atop my pillow cushions. When I really don’t know how to do something, I still call my parents. And I don’t own a pencil skirt or a blouse.

Since starting to write this, I went back to watch “The Sister of the Traveling Pants II” and noticed something new. Yes, Alexis is calm and composed and the epitome of grace and elegance when she tells Costas to leave, but as soon as she walks away, she cries. She feels. She’s human.

It’s okay if you don’t have your life together as this miraculous and bumpy four years comes to close. You’re going to cry. You’re going to mess up. You might even fail at something. Because you’re still you. You don’t magically turn 21 or 22 or even 23 and suddenly shift into this totally different being that has endless right answers to all aspects of life. You’re still that same kid you were back when jelly bracelets and yuhgio cards were cool, only now you have a little bit more experience. Growing up doesn’t mean knowing everything and being flawless and looking professional – it means being yourself, in a slightly better way than you knew yesterday.

There’s this thing going around that all of us are now “irrelevant”. And I’d disagree. Yes, our time at Western is dwindling into a mere 60 school days or so (that warranted a terrified yelp, don’t worry), but to say we’re irrelevant is the same as when people used to say, “high school is the best four years of your life!!!!!!”, which most of us probably found to be a giant and total fabrication.

The big bad world out there is fu*king terrifying, and rightfully so. There’s taxes and mortgages and insurance and probably more things I’ve never even heard of, all of which I’m unsure of how to actually accomplish. And yet, the prospect of being out there and doing the things you love or discovering the things you love seems so much more enticing than sitting here writing papers about it.

Take these last four mustang months to live. Spend time with your goofy roommates. Tell them they rock. Stay up too late and eat too much pizza. Tell that student you’ve been crushing on for a year in your class that you think they’re totally neato. Worse case scenario, in 4 months you’ll never have to encounter them again. Best case scenario, they cook you a pizza and have a super cute dog. Fall in love. Or don’t fall in love and be the most confident and independent self you’ve ever been. Just live, unedited and in the moment.

 

Uncertainty doesn’t have to be a cold blanket hovering over you at night – it’s a blank canvas. We’re not irrelevant. We’re powering through. And in a few short months we can be whatever version of ourselves we want. Whether that includes mustard stains or pencil skirts is just a minor detail.