As a senior graduating in May, I find myself in a number of odd, paralleled situations. I am so excited to finally see my four long years of hard work result in my degree, but I am also panicking daily about the fact that I am graduating. I go over my syllabi looking at the mountains of work I have to complete on top of my internship, but I also spend hours at a time scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat. One day I will do work for absurdly long time frames, and another I will not even open my bookbag or laptop. I go to see my advisor and talk to her until I’m blue in the face and ask for advice, then I go back to my room and nap for five hours.
At this point in my life, I believe I am in a place where many young soon-to-be-graduates have found themselves. There has always been this strong sense to chug full speed ahead and complete all of our tasks. “Just push it out, Kintura. Just get through the semester.” I tell myself this multiple times a day, because that is what I have been telling myself throughout my entire time in college. For three years straight the grind has been nonstop: “Just get through syllabus week,” “just get through this first test,” “just get through midterms,” “just finish this project,” “just bust out this last final and you get a break – you can go home.” It has always been about learning, doing well and making it to the next semester.
But now, the chilling reality of being a senior in college is that there is no next semester.
There is no guarantee of the familiarity of what is to come. This disturbing realization put me in a place of complacency. For the entire month of February, I barely accomplished anything at all by my usual standards of being my active self. As a full-time student, intern, server, cheerleading captain, Oracle staff member and babysitter to my cherub-faced twin nieces, I pride myself on my ability to stay busy and balanced.
But in February, I did everything within my power to stay as stagnant as possible. I barely completed assignments, I lulled through my internship, I slept through my classes and I barely saw my nieces. For some reason, I felt like if I stopped grinding and instead didn’t do anything at all, then just maybe, I could stop the inevitable from happening. I thought that if I stayed as still as possible, then maybe the world would slow down with me.
Needless to say I was completely wrong and bordering on delusional, but I still struggled because I was not sure how to express my feelings or who to even talk to. I felt like I was losing my mind as I got caught up in this strange limbo between understanding that my time as a student was ending, and grasping wildly at the nothingness of post graduation.
Finally, I asked myself the question I had been avoiding since December – the question that thousands of seniors across the world are asking themselves and having mental breakdowns over.
What the hell do I do if I’m not a student?
Luckily, after almost crying all over the origami cranes on her desk, my advisor Siu reassured me that I was not alone in the way I was feeling. Siu even shared her own pre and post graduation woes and fears, which helped me to put my own doubts and fears into perspective. Her stories made me laugh, made me nervous and made me excited — but most importantly they made me understand that everything will be okay. Most things in life, whether you can see it immediately or not, have an impeccable way of working themselves out amazingly.
To all graduating seniors that may feel like they are in a rut right now, please understand that you are not alone. Although there is no way to tell for sure what is to come in the future, walking across the stage on graduation day is not the end of your world, but an extension to use all of the things you’ve acquired while in college to have the most beautiful future possible.