Reflecting before my last time around the block

Well, here we are again. Another summer gone, another school year beginning. But for the rest of my class and me, this fall is a little different. We’re entering into our year of “lasts.” Our last “first day of school,” our last Homecoming as students and not alumni, our last classes before graduation. Sure, there are some that will continue their schooling, but as for myself, that’s not in the cards, at least not for awhile.

Senior year is all about tying it all together. I’m getting ready to complete my Capstone, Thesis and Portfolios, preparing to pass this baton of being editor-in-chief off to the next Duhawk, trying to condense my unnecessary number of belongings down so moving will not break my soul, and trying to soak up every minute with you all before saying good-bye. It’s only September, but I have all of this on my mind because I know that this year will probably go by faster than any year before it.

The thing is, expectations for this year are always different from reality. When I was younger, I pictured myself as a senior in college a little differently than I actually am right now. For one thing, I thought I would be at least 5’6” (Ha!) and actually look like I could enter a bar legally. I thought that I would have a career plan nailed down, a job already lined up, a certainty of where I was going to move to, and maybe even have met the person that I was going to marry.

Okay, so none of these things have actually happened. It doesn’t mean they won’t in the coming year, because who knows? But at least for now, I’m going to have to be a little bit more patient and accept that things aren’t going to be as smooth and easy as I hoped they would be when I was sitting at my desk in Mrs. Engle’s fifth grade classroom drawing my future self and writing down my hopes for my own future.

This summer was really difficult for me. More than ever before, I was forced to question who I want to be and who I actually am. I made plenty of mistakes, struggled with my own beliefs and morals, and had a few existential crises. But hey, I’m a writer, and I tend to over-dramatize. So, I also have to admit that it was one of my favorite summers. I was in a great internship where I actually felt valued and that I was making a difference. I improved myself physically and mentally. I enjoyed plenty of good times with my roommates and friends and got to experience living independently for the first summer ever.

There are questions that I asked myself this summer that I still have to answer. Entering my senior year, as I’m sure is the same case for many of my peers, there are still lots of unknowns hanging over my head that daily cause me to lose sleep, stress eat, and go for many a therapeutic run. But it’s not just seniors experiencing this. I know that we all have unanswered questions about how things will turn out or even uncertainties about what we want from our lives or who we want to be.

The saying goes, “take it day by day.” One of my mom’s favorite things to say to me when I was stressed about a project in school, a social situation, or what to pack for a field trip. (I was a very nervous child.) But I try to repeat this mantra as often as I can to myself still today. Because every day is a fresh start. We’ll probably make the same mistakes more than once. We’ll trust someone that we shouldn’t have, we’ll let ourselves down, we’ll forget an assignment, we’ll tell a lie or we’ll just plain mess up. But these things don’t have to define us.

Every morning is a chance to wake up and do better than yesterday, accepting whatever comes our way, and accepting the fact that we don’t have all the answers but that we may find something out about ourselves that may make things a little bit clearer. But the unknowns are part of the excitement of the journey. So I’m just going to keep taking this year day by day, and loving every minute of it.

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