“Wow, you are a senior? You must really have your life together,” said the first-year girl I was speaking to during sorority open houses.
I paused for a moment, knowing that I definitely would not use that phrase to sum up how my life was, but not knowing how to address what “senior life” was for myself.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” I said with a laugh. “It’s definitely been fun because the activities that I am involved in have been really rewarding, but I am still figuring out what I will be doing next year.”
From there, our conversation moved onto an easier topic — her deciding what her major should be and what classes she should take next semester.
I decided not to tell her that the previous night, I spent five hours procrastinating an article I had to write and finally gave up and hung out with a friend instead. I also didn’t tell her that I set my alarm at 5 a.m. to complete the article and other work I had due, but slept through it and only had time to shower and get ready before coming up to my chapter house for open houses to begin.
I did not tell her that, at the time, I had yet to submit a single job application.
I also decided not to say that the only food in my fridge was some lettuce that was probably bad and a few Babybel cheeses because I had not gone food shopping in six weeks.
With all of the above, it sounds like my life is in shambles and that I should probably develop better study habits, apply for jobs and buy some groceries.
And yet, ironically, I have never felt like my life has been more together.
I am more confident in who I am than ever before. I understand what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to capitalize on the former and improve the latter. It took me five semesters to decide what career path I want to take, and it is one that encompasses my passions and strengths. I have dynamic and quirky friends who mean the world to me. I am president of Student Senate, a position that I dreamed and worked for since freshman year.
Part of feeling this way comes from hard work from the first three years of college paying off.
Part of feeling this way also comes from surviving junior year. My leadership positions and personal relationships tested me in ways I could never anticipate — and never want to face again. In some aspects, I came to realize I was not the person I thought I was, and this identity crisis pushed me deeper into the black hole I felt I was in. I felt raw and exhausted after moving out in May.
My experiences junior year made me want senior year to be less…controversial. Taxing. Miserable.
Thankfully, senior year has not been any of those things, but it has not been the high-energy, fun last round of college that I thought it would be.
While I have always maintained a very busy schedule for myself in college, this year the hectic calendar exhausts me much more easily than before. While I used to love going out after a long day and hanging out with friends, “Gilmore Girls” on autoplay with a jar of Nutella while curled up in bed is more appealing.
Sometimes this makes me panic because I have a limited number of nights left to go out with college friends, but a lifetime worth of re-runs and hazelnut spread ahead of me.
When I procrastinate by playing Two Dots on my phone or aimlessly browsing Facebook, I kick myself because that time wasted could have been better spent doing things on campus that I won’t have a chance to do once May comes.
This feeling of being in a rut contrasts perfectly with the togetherness and confidence I also feel, making it even harder to make sense of what senior year is shaping up to be.
I don’t quite know how I am getting there, but I know exactly what I want to do this year.
I want to be engaged in and a role model in my chapter, like seniors were when I joined three years ago. I want to create a visuals section of The Brown and White that has a high standard for photography and that uses innovative multimedia tools in stories. I want the 27th Student Senate to make tangible, substantial progress on the large campus issues we are working to address.
I want to spend time with my friends before we scatter across the country next year. I want to let go of my stress and anxiety, even just a little, so that I can better enjoy the last of my incredible four years at Lehigh.
To respond to the first-year’s statement at open houses, maybe having it together does not mean that you have a job lined up, are constantly happy, have lots of fun on the weekends and are well fed.
If I could respond to her question again, I would say that I do feel like my life is together — but that is because my Lehigh experiences have given me strength and confidence, and while I don’t know how I am getting there, I know exactly what I want to achieve.