Sarah Hochberg, Opinion Editor
Last week, I had a flurry of exams and papers. My classes are all knee-deep into their syllabi and I’ve already been locked out once. It is safe to say the semester is fully underway, and I am officially in my final semester as an undergraduate student.
Around this point, I wonder to myself why that statement is so nerve-wracking. I am a senior. I am graduating soon. It seems I can’t even type those thoughts without an involuntary mental head shake and a desire to immediately focus on anything else, even my oft procrastinated philosophy readings. I usually operate within a forward-leaning context – understanding my actions within the framework of where I’m going next. Again and again I’ve tried (honestly half-heartedly) to ‘live in the moment’, but this year, spontaneous adventuring feels more like escape than fulfillment. While they are not mutually exclusive concepts, I am trying to avoid the future, not focus on the present.
My avoidance stems partially from lacking a concrete plan. I see my friends and fellow seniors conduct their final projects and capstones, get accepted to grad school and create other building blocks that will serve them well in their professional and personal futures. While I’m extremely happy for them and their achievements, I can’t help but think of how I would feel in their shoes. I don’t know of any grad school or employment I would enjoy beyond the immediately relief of security in knowing what my next step is. Upon graduating I could have the potential for a variety of avenues, and the act of turning potential into reality is a step I’m scared to take. It’s FOMO to the extreme. By accepting one job, what if I have to refuse another one? What if I never get around to traveling and doing my bucket list items? What if I try for a local position and don’t live in a place that makes me happy? What if happiness is a myth? This is usually when the panic sets in and I have to immediately do something else. Senior year has made the ever-present existential dread of what am I doing here increase by a thousand fold. I am graduating and I have only the vaguest of ideas of what I want to do.
To anyone else dealing with similar frustrations, I found a variety of things help. Talking to family and loved ones gives me a sense of grounding. A social safety net helps me realize that no matter what I choose, I am in the fortunate position to be loved and accepted. Taking a realistic stock of who I am as a person and what my resources are can also help. I know that I will be doing something, which may sound extremely obvious but knowing that fact helps me turn the panic into a realistic drive. I don’t know what my plans are, but I know they are out there and I will discover them, which is half the battle. I, and my fellow seniors, are on the precipice of our future lives and while that is a terrifying notion, it is also a challenge I will gladly undertake.