Opinion | Senior Year: A mid-year reflection

By Anne Marie Yurik, Staff Columnist

I was a try-hard high school kid four years ago. I took honors and APs, I was involved in more extracurriculars than time allowed and I worked part-time. I was excited to hear back from universities. The way that I looked forward to my college graduation was similar to how some people plan their weddings — all I was missing was the Pinterest board.

Fast forward four years and here I am. Sitting in my room, forgetting what day it is and begging for my left eye to stop twitching for the third day in a row. I thought being a senior would be enlightening. I would be driven, motivated and successful.

Instead, I cry at dog TikToks, wait to do laundry until the last possible second and narrowly avoid mini breakdowns when I ask myself “what’s next?” Nobody told me that this last year would make everyone as confused as I am, and they certainly did not tell me that “adults” don’t really know what they’re doing.

As a first-year and sophomore who had too much faith in plans, I got excited for the moment when all my work would pay off. All the late nights at Hillman, the classes with professors who just did not want to be there and the terrible meals that I attempted to cook since I insisted that I didn’t need a meal plan — it would all be worth it.

I made the executive decision at age 18 that senior year would be fun, motivational and the peak of my college experience. I worked hard to boost my GPA so senior year would be less stressful. I look back on it all and laugh because I wrote my senior year in my head the way 40-year-old white women write Hallmark Christmas movies.

Nowadays, I’m happy when I do the laundry. I am proud when I shower and remember to swipe on some deodorant. And I feel like a damn queen when I wake up and put on real human clothes instead of just throwing a sweatshirt over my pajamas like always.

Although I used to love “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games,” 2020 has made dystopian novels a heck of a lot less fun to read since it seems like I am living in one.

I knew that my last year would have some challenges because some things are unavoidable. I thought it would be difficult because of the advanced classes and law school applications and balancing work with friends. Though all of that still holds true, I forgot to include that we would be fighting a global pandemic when I planned it out in my head. That’s my bad, I really should have seen it coming.

I think we all can agree that living through history really is not all it’s cracked up to be. In March, I remembered thinking to myself how future generations would look to me, a saggy and dusty-smelling woman, to describe what life was like amongst a global crisis.

Now, if my senior year was the Hallmark movie that I had planned, it would be a movie montage to the 2005 All-American Rejects hit “Move Along.” The montage would include me working at my desk, me walking to class, me raising my hand and actually participating in class and me meeting up with all my friends after to get drinks.

If I was lucky, it would even include me eating lettuce and smiling, like all the misleading healthy food ads show. My montage in reality is best described as the song “Ribs” by Lorde. The montage is me sitting at my desk, me sitting at my desk and eating, me sitting at my desk and crying, me sitting at my desk and typing a subpar personal statement and me leaving my desk to go lay in bed.

It certainly does not have the character development that I thought was inherent during this transitional year. To give this semester a grade, I would give it a D+. The year did not fail because it gave me a reason to blow off plans, the ability to make class pants-optional and it allowed many others to love my favorite TV show, “Schitt’s Creek,” as much as I do.

It got a D+ though, because Karens have been crawling out of every little nook and cranny with their heavily angled bob, my skin is the worst it has been since my voice was cracking in sixth grade and nothing feels real anymore.

I was able to submit six law school applications, which hurt not only my brain but also my bank account, and for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate. The number of tests, essays, quizzes and presentations I have done in the middle of a pandemic and the 2020 election is obscene.

But each day I make it through is a victory. I might not shoot arrows or hunt like Katniss Everdeen, and I might not be brave enough to jump off a building in “Divergent,” but I am willing to continue to pursue my education in an environment that is new, surprising and difficult.

I have battled the moments where I should have been muted but was not, where I was muted and should not have been, where my teacher minimized the Zoom tab and thought that she closed the call, so I watched her type an email to my class apologizing for class being over while we all still sat silently on the Zoom call.

I have heard girls fighting with their boyfriends when they accidentally joined unmuted, and I have heard “can you see my screen?” more times than should be legally allowed. I might not have made it through this period with grace, but I have come rolling down the hill to the finish line nonetheless.

I would be lying if I said I have never publicly cried into my mask. I’d be perjuring myself to you, my reader-jurors, if I said that I haven’t pulled dirty clothes out of the hamper because I don’t feel like carrying laundry to the adjacent building. But at the end of the day, no one told me that I had to cross the finish line looking devilishly good and in perfect condition.

I am crawling across the finish line this year with pizza in one hand and a big bottle of Sutter Home white zinfandel in the other. I will not look like a celebrity accepting an award, but rather a toddler whose parents say “oh well, we let them pick the outfit today” when the child gets weird looks from strangers.

And I know that I am not the only one. Many others are not only attending class muted, off-camera and without pants, but they’re also accomplishing things that they never get around to celebrating. This year can feel unreal, monotonous and even like it doesn’t count towards a generic college experience. But as easy as it is to get caught up in what could have been, we should appreciate our inner resilience, even if we didn’t make it though as seamlessly as we would have wanted.

Write to Anne Marie at [email protected].