The internship searches have morphed into job searches, the sought-after executive board positions are now ours and our points have gotten us up to the front rows at the football games; after three short years, we’ve become seniors.
And in eight much shorter months, we’ll be alumni.
Most of us, myself included, can probably remember — as much as we might try to forget it — our freshman orientation, the day we moved into our first dorm room and (believe it or not) getting to our first class 15 minutes earlier than Michigan time (RIP) required, utterly overprepared.
The last three years have gone by faster than any of us expected — much faster than the first three years of high school. Most likely, even for those of us that peaked then too.
Scrolling through Instagram Sept. 4, with the endless “last first day” captions, brutally reminded me of how much longer I have here. It brought an onslaught of stress mixed with sadness and a tinge of excitement.
I’ve seen my own focus and that of my friends shift from the next semester or year to the next five or 10 years. We’re now wondering where we’re going to be come May of 2019 (or, avoiding that thought like we’ve avoided 8:00 a.m. classes for the past seven semesters).
Don’t get me wrong, that’s important. I don’t think any of us want to wake up the day after graduation, fight our way through our likely fuzzy thoughts and realize we have no idea what we’re going to be doing the next day (though, for some of us, this might be the first time while living in Ann Arbor that we’re happy about a 12-month lease ending in mid-August).
The stress of a job search forces me to have tunnel vision toward the future, blocking out everything else that’s going on around me and, inevitably, keeping me from truly embracing this last year.
But it dawned on me that I’ll never again be around the people I’m surrounded with now. That brought me back to reality, back to where I am now. Soon enough, there won’t be any midnight trips to Pinball Pete’s the night before an exam, nor shutting down bars (at least in Ann Arbor), nor midnights at The Michigan Daily.
It’s easy to see if I don’t cherish the time and people I have here, eight months will come and go, and I really won’t be ready to graduate and move on from Ann Arbor.
Talking to a friend who graduated a few years ago, I mentioned the trips out to Colorado with the snowboard club, the weekend trips to New York, the overnight fly fishing trip for a king salmon run in northern Michigan that went terribly wrong.
What struck me was that he told me he wished he had spent his time like that, instead of completely focused on where life would be taking him.
That’s not to say I’m doing things right. I don’t think any of us will find that perfect balance of being here, embracing our senior year, all while preparing for the future. But that’s not to say it isn’t worth trying.
After we graduate, everything will change. Some of us are ready for that change, ready to move on, while others surely aren’t. But until May, until we’re no longer undergraduates, we can’t lose sight of where we are now.
Things won’t ever be like this again. Soon enough, we’ll be full-fledged adults dealing with our full-fledged debt. But for now, embrace living with your friends in your shitty houses (or expensive, nice apartments), dealing with shitty landlords.
So moral of the story — sorry for the cliché — stop and smell the roses. This ride is coming to an end soon, but don’t land preemptively.
Take that trip. Get coffee with that friend you haven’t seen in months. Go to that show, party, movie the night before an exam.
It’s scary that there’s an end in sight, undoubtedly. But I just hope once I fight through my own haziness the morning after graduation, I think to myself, “I did it, and I’m ready for what’s next.”