Senior season is upon us—for better and for worse

Enya Eettickal, Staff Writer

If I had a dime for every time this week someone asked me how I felt about knowing I’m graduating this semester, I’d probably make, actually, about three bucks. It may not be very much money, but it is still an absurd amount of dimes. 

Stupid sayings aside, the question always gets a strong reaction out of me, mainly because I don’t know how I particularly feel. And I’m certain that there are at least a few other seniors who can resonate with me.

While I can’t pinpoint an exact feeling about graduating, there are quite a few emotions I am experiencing right now. 

Excitement is the first one. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’m a major Cleveland hater—I’m incredibly excited to get out of this place. The other half of my excitement stems from the hope of what’s to come. The whole (or at least, significant) point of college is to prepare to go out into the real world—and lucky for me, I’m ready for that next step. Living on my own, traveling, working, making money and experiencing the full freedom of the “adult experience“ is what I’ve been looking forward to for so long. Soon the life I’ve been envisioning for eight years will finally be within reach. 

However, that excitement pairs closely with apprehension. While I know some of my classmates have already locked down jobs and graduate school plans, I have not. What exactly I’m going to be doing is yet to be determined. And while that’s scary in its own way, there’s fear even in certainty. What if I don’t like what I’m doing? Where do I actually go from there? Am I really all that prepared to be an adult? There are many questions that only time can answer. That security and structure that come with undergraduate education are going to be undeniably lost, and until I get readjusted, a little bit of that anxiety is going to linger. 

Disappointment has also been a major emotion I’ve been processing as a senior. This may not be unique to the class of 2023, but I know for a fact that it’s definitely exacerbated for us. COVID-19 stole our second year, which ended up impacting me more than I had anticipated. Coming back to campus as a third-year left me starting over, essentially as a first-year in some ways. I wasn’t familiar with campus anymore, I didn’t have the connections I’d initially forged and a whole year of potential experiences was completely gone. While I’m excited to graduate, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed and almost as if my undergraduate experience was unfulfilled. The four-year experience I was promised didn’t happen, and while I’m grateful I’m at least alive and came out on the other side okay, I still think about what could have been. 

In the end, though, I’m honestly quite sad. Despite all the lost experiences, I was eventually able to find my footing and space on campus that felt like it was truly meant for me. It took a bit longer than I expected, but I’ve finally found friends I really enjoy spending time with. I know where I’m going on a personal level, and I’ve grown a lot as a person. But now, I’m just sad that it’s all going to come to an end so soon. 

So the big question is, now what? Is there anything I can do about all these feelings? As graduating seniors, is there a solution of sorts for this set of jumbled emotions? On one hand, it’s all kind of inevitable. “It is what it is” is really the answer here. However, to a degree, I’d also say that there are parts of these emotions that are within our control. For fear and apprehension, I fully intend to set myself up for a smooth transition out of college and into the workforce; getting ahead of planning and applications is big. Some have already started, so hats off to those of you who are a part of that group. But for anyone else with similar anxieties about being on top of your future—just rip off the Band-Aid, it’ll be worth it. As for the sadness and disappointment, I’ve resolved to enjoy every day as much as I can. By spending time with all the lovely humans I’ve met, making the most of every event I attend and every activity I’m a part of, I’ll do everything I can to make this the best semester possible. At least when it’s all over, I’ll be able to appreciate the whole experience as much as possible.
And who knows, maybe even as Cleveland’s number one hater, I’ll come back and visit the campus that’s come to grow on me.