I officially moved in for my senior year yesterday.
It was strange, and somewhat foreign. I traveled the long, seemingly endless road to campus by myself, with a few boxes in the backseat and Chance playing through the speakers. I realized then that this was my first time moving in all by myself. It made this all feel so surreal… my four years here are slowly winding down.
It seems like just yesterday I was making this drive for the first time with my entire family, pulling into campus and being overwhelmed and amazed at everything – the people, the places, the possibilities that lay in front of me. I don’t feel like it’s been three years since I was moving into my barely-bigger-than-a-closet room with my best friend. I remember how excited and nervous I was about the whole experience. It felt like my life had just begun, that my eyes had finally been open thanks to the greatness of college life. (Obviously, I had a lot to learn.)
But yesterday, I drove past campus to get to my house that I’ll be living in for this year. As the university passed through my windows, I watched as freshmen roamed up and down the sidewalks with their newfound friends, and I passed by the concrete stairs that my two friends and I would sit on for hours at night our first week of freshman year. Of the three of us, I am the only one still attending school here. Strange.
I feel so far from the excited freshman or hopeful sophomore or “just trying to get by” junior that I was not too long ago. I know I’m a much different person now. Life has been a hurricane for me in these past few years, and I have changed with its waves and its forces. I’m far from the wide-eyed, eager 17 year old that I was when I moved into Printy. I’m far from the sophomore that resolved to redeem herself from how freshman year ended. I’m far from the worn down junior begging for the year to finish. Now I’m a senior who has experienced a lot between the ages of 17 to 21, perhaps more than most have experienced in their lifetime. And in light of everything that I’ve struggled through, I must admit that I’m a little amazed that I’ve made it this far. It’s been far from easy, but it’s been worth it. There are some hardships that I would have changed or even erased, but I know that I wouldn’t be who I am without them.
I don’t think I’ve decided what to feel about this final year, what to think of my time here. I’ve certainly had treasured moments that I hope to remember forever, and I’ve made lifelong friendships with students and professors alike. I’ve grown as a person, and I’ve certainly grown up through the changing seasons and circumstances and closed doors and open opportunities. But even with all that in mind, I still feel very small and unsure.
Perhaps I am too expectant for what lies ahead of me after I accept my diploma and pack up my boxes and leave here for the very final time. I’ve always had difficulty with enjoying the present and taking hold of what is around me. But what’s in store for me once these next two semesters are over seems much more exciting than what’s happening in this moment.
But… I still know that this year is going to teach me a lot. I already feel like I’ve grown years and years from who I was when I left for the summer. I’ve seen a lot, I’ve lost a lot, but I’ve also gained. I would really like to think that I am a little wiser, stronger, and kinder than I was when I finished out my junior year. This summer taught me how to love and value others and make relationships a priority, but it also taught me how to love and value myself and my own health and sense of self.
I’ve felt a little lost and disoriented in my own life lately, but I’m learning to accept that this is a normality of life. There are moments, even days and weeks, that have went by where it felt like I was watching my life through another person’s lenses. I began to clearly see the ghosts that I allow into my life, the things that make this life of mine so often feel haunted. But this perspective also let me see that I’m not lost, even though my heart tends to think so. I’m just a bit turned around, a little off the path. But I’m certainly not all lost. Perhaps I am just taking the less traveled route to where I am going. It might not be the most obvious or the most convenient or the most practical, but I know that I am getting somewhere.
So here I am, sitting in my living room away from all the ruckus of getting started weekend. I’m not sure what to feel in this moment, as classes start in a few days and I officially start my final year here. It’s been a long road to get here, there were times that I didn’t think I would make it this far. I’m sure there will be times that I will feel like I’ll never make it to graduation. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I will persist. I’m a lion-hearted type of girl, with roaring determination. And ultimately, this year is going to be what I make it. So i’m going to make it one that I can be proud of, one that I’ll look back at and be able to know that I lived it well.
Senior year, I might not be totally ready for you yet. But I’ve made it this far and I’m certain I can take whatever you throw my way.