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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

A case of the ‘Senior Scaries’

Yesterday was my last first game day.

Two weeks ago was my last first day of class. This semester is my last fall semester to enjoy as a Notre Dame student. The abundance of “lasts” as I begin senior year feels a bit overwhelming at times. Not only do these “lasts” make me reflect on my years as a college student and the fact these days of having relative control over my schedule, eating meals with and having fun with friends, going to college parties, seeing familiar faces everywhere and being surrounded by people in the same stage of life as me are coming to an end, but they also force me to realize there’s a whole life to plan and live after this — not just another school year to fall into. Senior year, although it’s been great so far, feels like one long Sunday: a sort of in-between as one period of life is beginning to end and another is approaching from a distance. 

Throughout my life so far, I’ve been lucky to have a general idea of what was coming next. From fall to spring, I would be in school and then be home for the summer and then start all over when fall came around again. Going to college was definitely a transitional stage of getting used to being away from home, but the general cycle remained the same: move-in in August, game days in the fall, watch campus transition from green and sunny to orange-yellow-red and chilly to white and freezing, register for next semester’s classes, come back in the spring and so on. Although each semester came with (a lot) of struggles, there was comfort both in being in a familiar environment with familiar people and in having the general next step laid out.  

This year, it feels a little different. Today, I haven’t made a decision on what my job is going to be post-grad, I’m not sure what city or state I’m going to live in and I don’t have a clear idea of what life is going to look like a year from now. As someone who loves predictability (I’m one of those people who makes a daily schedule that plans each day down to the hour) and is generally averse to big life changes, it’s an unsettling thought I find myself trying to avoid. As much as I complain about homework assignments and exams and essays, what is life going to look like when they’re replaced by performance reviews and bonus incentives? Even though South Bend winters can be tough, what will winters be like without slipping on the way to class or seeing the Golden Dome gleaming in the snow on a quiet late-night walk back home? I’m not the biggest fan of the dining hall, but is it going to feel lonely to not have my weekly lunches and dinners there with friends anymore or to not see the friendly faces of the people who work there? It might be too early to worry about all of this, but knowing right now is the beginning of the end of college is a strange feeling. 

How does one beat the Senior Scaries and not allow this sometimes overwhelming feeling of uncertainty spoil senior year?  

I think the way to make the best of this final year is to embrace it as it is instead of worrying too much about what’s to come. I’ve always been someone who has trouble being in the present. Throughout high school and college, my mind has always been on the next step and my energy has been on preparing for what the future might bring. That’s not a bad thing, but it hasn’t given me a solid foundation to fall back on when the next step isn’t too clear.

So, I think my sole goal for my senior year is to get better at being in the present and enjoying it too.

I’m going to take advantage of the opportunities that come with being at a place like Notre Dame — by going on more walks and runs around the lakes, enjoying the changing of the seasons and how each one highlights the beauty of campus, going to the Smith Center because I probably won’t have access to such a nice gym a year from now and enjoying my classes and the chance to learn for the sake of learning. I want to continue to make happy memories with my friends, meet more people and enjoy this last year of being in this kind of sheltered adulthood before graduating into the real world. 

So, for the first time in my life, I’m not going to worry too much about the future. I think future me will be thankful for it. 

Meg is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in data science and business economics. Besides writing, she enjoys spending time with the people she loves, riding on public transportation and listening to good music.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.