When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to be a senior. My old high school had what we called "Senior Step Up Day," for the soon to be rising seniors at the end of the school year. We couldn't wait to be seniors and at one point in the school year, being a senior and graduating was all that we could talk about.
Fast forward a few years later, if I talk about being a senior around my friends, they immediately shoot down the conversation. One of my friends told me that talking and thinking about senior year makes her vomit. She's not alone in feeling this way about being a senior.
Being a senior in college is not as flattering as it might seem. On one hand, the realization that you won't have to take any more final exams, midterms or pull all-nighters writing papers brings an unspeakable joy. But on the other hand, you're essentially two feet into the real world, even during your senior year in college. You always have to have your mind on the future, even while you're completing your courses during your senior year. Students apply for jobs during their senior year of college and look for opportunities after college.
But wait, it gets better.
Some students carry a financial burden from student loans that they have to pay back as soon as they graduate. These are real-world responsibilities that roam in the minds of college seniors. It's overwhelming and scary, but it's a part of the process. In addition to the responsibilities, one of the hardest questions to answer when people ask is: "What are you going to do after college?"
I hate that question. I never know what to say and I always feel dumb because I don’t have an accurate answer and the more I think about it, the more freaked out I become. But the truth is, that's okay.
Transitioning from college into the real world is scary. The pressure put on college graduates to use their degree to do great things and live the "American Dream" and then some. When you take that into account, as well as the personal stress, pressure, and responsibilities that certain people put on themselves or have on them due to different circumstances, it's easy to understand why people want to vomit when they speak about their senior year.
I think there's a couple of ways to go about dealing with the stresses of senior year.
First off, look at the glass half full instead of half empty. College is almost over and you survived. That's something to be grateful for and to be excited about. While the stresses of senior and college are real, so is a diploma that represents sleepless nights, pain, suffering and adventure. Now, you have additional tools in your toolbox to help you in the future that you didn’t have when you started college. That's something to be grateful for.
Secondly, count your blessings and appreciate what you have around you.
For me personally, I'm thankful for a praying mother and my faith that I lean on when times are hard. I've also been blessed with friends, old and new, as well as people who've invested in me in my future. I always know that there's someone in my corner cheering me on. These are a few things I'm thankful for.
I'm convinced, everyone has someone or something to be thankful for. Whether it's a friend, parent, teacher, dog, cat or whatever, we all have blessings to be thankful for. This mindset of being thankful helps ease the fear and it puts things in perspective. In its own way, being thankful allows you to put things in perspective and see the brighter side of certain situations.
Lastly, hold on to your dreams, even if they don't seem realistic at times.
Michael Jordan was told that he wasn't good enough. Kurt Warner, a former NFL SuperBowl winning quarterback worked at a grocery store before he got picked up by an NFL team. Everyone has moments where things don’t go as smoothly as we think. Whether it’s being cut by a basketball team or trying to pay back student loans or trying to find a good job for when you graduate college, life presents challenges that make you consider having a plan B or settling for something that's not meant for you.
When those challenges arise, keep fighting and keep dreaming. The detour that life throws at you will lead you to your dream, which could be your destiny.
Here's the bottom line – being a senior is scary and it's okay to be afraid. But don't stay in the state of fear. Everything will work out the way it's supposed to in due time.