“I’m so ready to graduate”- said every high school senior ever. In high school, dreaming of the next chapter in your life becomes a regular pastime as you sit in Algebra II not listening to the equations on the board. Sure, you’re sad about leaving your hometown and all of your friends, but there is sort of a road map of what comes next: going into college or the workforce. After 12 years of standardized learning, high school seniors are usually ready to embrace a new challenge in life and all of the freedom that comes with it. This feeling, “senioritis”, comes in waves throughout a high schooler’s final year as they anticipate their education career’s closing activities.

“I’m so not ready to graduate”- said every college senior for the past three years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, those that are graduating this year agree to the feeling of being frozen on March 13th, 2020. This was a generation-defining day, with the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. Because of the absence of in-person learning, college seniors still feel like the just-getting-started sophomores we once were. We missed out on our junior year, which is usually a time of finally feeling secure in who you are as a college student. We lost almost two years of in-person internships, study abroad opportunities, and regular old life experiences.

Graduating college is different from high school. For most college kids, for some reason when the clock strikes 12:00 on your 18th birthday you start to understand life a little differently. You may not see it through the rose-colored glasses you once did, because your education curriculum shifts to only focus on your field of study. Throughout your 4 years as an undergraduate you slowly become equipped with the tools to face the workforce and all of the sudden, all of your energy is pinpointing on your future career. It’s exciting and challenging, but can be draining as you spend 4 years preparing yourself for the dreaded “real world”.

With this juxtaposition of growing more experienced academically and the absence of an entire year of in-person social life, I am so not ready to graduate. I have this feeling of anti-senioritis, where I immediately shut out the idea of graduating. It’s a mix of nostalgia for what could have been, fear for the future, and a pining to live unmoving in the present. 

This is uncharted territory for my generation, but we will learn to move past it. Commencement is approaching whether we like it or not. Graduation will be bitter. Nonetheless, I need to appreciate the time that has been granted in the here and now- surrounded by all of the experiences I once wanted so badly two years ago.