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I wasn’t expecting everything to feel so different

Entering a new school year has felt routine for so long. However, starting this year as a college senior has me in all the senior feels. I realize that it is the beginning of many lasts but also the start of many new adventures. College, and school for that matter, has always been a pattern in my life. Attending classes, studying for exams, running student organizations, and much more has been the mundane routine of my life as a student. The end of this senior year has so many unknowns; with that, my emotions are on a rollercoaster. 

I continue to find myself at a loss for what I specifically want to pursue as a career. I have many passions and a vast amount of studies I have dedicated countless hours to. I have left myself with many options—almost too many, I realize now. Many people exit college with a major that gives them direction. However, graduating with three majors still leaves me questioning which one is the best route for me. Being tied down to one area of focus and one profession appears to be a commitment I am not ready to make.

As college students, we’re always pressured into having a plan for our futures; however, it is perfectly normal for us to be at a loss about what the future holds for our lives. A gap year seems to be in store for me post-graduation before I continue my studies to pursue a professional degree. Our generation needs to normalize the gap year: taking time to breathe and escape the academic setting is healthy and normal for many young adults in today’s society. 

Like a potential gap year, I have come to deeply understand the importance of taking a step back from situations and gathering my emotions and thoughts throughout college. The college experience has thrown me many ups and downs, but I can acknowledge how much I have been able to grow and adapt as a student and, more importantly, as a person. My values have changed and flourished for what I seek in my friendships, relationships, and beliefs. Where I started my freshman year is completely different from where I have landed now. I can only have compassion for that younger version of myself and continue to meet myself with kindness as senior year entails a new, unknown set of obstacles. 

I hope that all seniors can read this article and understand that wherever they are going in life, they are not alone as they enter the ‘real world.’ The feelings that are happening right now at the beginning of senior year are completely normal. It is okay to embrace the overwhelming feelings and the new emotions brought about by many endings. Always remember that there is a path in life for you and whichever avenue you choose, it will be so lucky to have you.

Kate O’Leary

Wisconsin '23

Kate is currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin Madison majoring in Biology, Psychology, and Sociology. She is the proud co-president of Her Campus Wisconsin. Kate enjoys indoor cycling, spending time with friends, cheering on the Badgers and making the absolute best crepes ever!
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