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Senior year isn’t what I thought it would be

| Staff Writer

Last spring, when I looked forward to senior year, I envisioned a smooth-sailing time.

After all, I was just five credits shy of graduation, and my term as Student Life editor-in-chief had come and gone. Senior year was going to be all about spending time with friends, cherishing my last days at Washington University and exploring places in St. Louis that I still hadn’t managed to see.

But here’s the thing, folks: Senior year of college does not connote top dog status like it did in high school. All it means is that you’re grappling with big questions like: What do I do with myself next year? What am I passionate about? What is my purpose in life?

For even the most sure-footed person, these questions are tough to answer. For someone like me—who has lots of different, random, wide-ranging interests and is all too unsure of their place in the world—answering questions like these is nearly impossible.

Despite having spent the last three-plus years more than a thousand miles from home, I find myself increasingly wondering about how far I could be from my hometown after I graduate. Somehow, my next move seems more permanent than deciding where to go to college; even though what I do next could realistically last for less than four years, it could also end up being a life-determining move.

One other thing that makes the last year of college weird is that everyone is looking for different things, from fellowships to full-time jobs to graduate programs. While some of my high school peers sought out employment or took gap years when I enrolled as a freshman, most of them headed to college at the same time as I did. This marks the first time in my life where there’s no easy path to follow. Everybody’s going in their own directions, and I have to decide what’s best for me separate of what everyone else is doing.

While my anxieties for the future weigh heavy, my stresses over school still plague me as much as ever.

Being stressed about school—or at least overly concerned about grades—has been a way of life for me since elementary school. For some reason, I believed senioritis would settle in, and I’d be able to cruise through the year without paying much mind to my marks. Alas, I was wrong. I care as much as ever, and I’m just as worried about getting a less-than-perfect grade as I was freshman year.

Yes, senior year means knowing places to go and things to do—and having brilliant friends who’ll help you make these experiences memorable.

But the uneasiness of facing a post-grad life makes the year far from the smooth ride I imagined it might be. While Wash. U. has undoubtedly equipped all of us with the skills to succeed in a variety of fields, it’s up to me to determine what I want out of life. And that’s terrifying.