There’s an uneasiness in the air this time of year.
I catch a glimpse of it in the eyes of nervous students dressed in business casual on their way to interviews. I notice it in the forced smiles flashed when friends excitedly tell you where they will be working post-graduation.
Now, with every new Facebook post I see of friends from high school accepting job offers, I feel it creeping up on me, too.
The senior scaries are real. It’s the overpowering fear of ending up jobless and broke, with no sense of direction when graduation strikes in May.
For the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing one year from now. Not only that, but it will also be my first time stepping into the real world truly on my own.
Despite the fact that most of the jobs I’m interested in won’t open applications until the late spring, I still get a nagging feeling that I’m somehow falling behind.
I know it’s the biggest cliche, but college really has passed by in the blink of an eye. Lately, I’ve been envying the drive and sense of possibility I see in the underclassmen. They have so much time, while it seems like ours is running out.
Since early on in my college career, I had a plan in the back of mind — the summer before my senior year I would find an amazing internship which would launch me into a network I could use to secure a job in the fall.
For so long that plan was etched into my mind so fiercely, that when rejection after rejection came back to me last spring, I was completely crushed.
Luckily, I was able to secure a research position through the Mountaintop Initiative here at Lehigh. I spent my summer with a documentary crew —an experience which opened up so many doors for me.
Looking back, what was most difficult for me was to let go of the preconceived future that I had imagined for so long. It never dawned on me that I might be better off breaking away from the more mainstream path I see many of my peers heading down.
The realization that I always manage to find a way to make the most out of my circumstances really changed my mindset when it came to thinking about post-graduation as well.
I have to admit, I thought I would have a lot more figured out by this point in my life. But isn’t that always how it goes? We often think about the future in unrealistic ways.
We’ve spent years putting ourselves into boxes. Majoring in this, minoring in that, getting involved in these clubs and activities. But we need to remember we’re so much more than the labels we tack onto our resumes.
At this point, I think I’m torn between wanting to have it all figured out, and loving the freedom that life could literally take me anywhere in the months to come. What scares me more than not securing a job is getting trapped in one that doesn’t make me happy.
We have more freedom now than ever before. It’s such an incredible opportunity to be daring and pursue something we never thought we would because if it doesn’t work out, we can just start over again.
So to anyone who is starting to feel overwhelmed by the senior scaries, I say take a step back. While you might end up somewhere vastly different than you imagined, it’s time to embrace the openness of the future.
Delaney McCaffrey, ’19, is the multimedia editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]