I always knew I’d feel the fourth-year blues when the time arrived — the feelings of sadness and melancholy because my time at the University is coming to an end. It seems a bit cliché, but after essentially losing a year of a normal college experience to COVID-19, I want to take advantage of all the time I have left in college with the people who have made the past three years so special and memorable, and moving forward, I also want to take advantage of the lessons I’ve learned here.
I look at the “123 Things To Do Before We Graduate” poster on my wall, and I see so much has been checked off already, such as attending Rotunda Sing and Sunset Series. I also notice the few things I haven’t checked off yet that I really want to do, like watch a movie at the Virginia Film Festival and attend an event at the Fralin Art Museum. On the other hand, there are certain things that I highly doubt I’ll be able to do, such as get the #1 ticket at Bodo’s Bagels or pull an all-nighter in a library.
Recently, I've noticed how I've been saying “this is the last time we’ll get a chance to do this together,” to my friends, given that we’re all going to graduate and go our separate paths in less than a year. I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but compared to the alternative of missing out on various activities during the semester, it’s better to try to do as much as I can. This means participating in University traditions, such as Lighting of the Lawn and singing the “Good Ol’ Song” at football games, exploring Charlottesville and going to the markets, the Downtown Mall and Carter’s Mountain.
One of my closest friends is graduating a semester early, so we have to make the most out of the fall. I can’t help but go back and forth between living in the moment and fixating on the future. The semester is going by quickly — we’re already approaching the halfway mark. People are buzzing about exams and essays that are due in the next few weeks. Once the semester picks up, everyone is busy until the end.
Not only do I feel like time is going by quickly, but sometimes I worry I’m not doing enough. I worry that if I stay home and rest, then I’ll miss out on what someone else may be doing. When I was sick during the second week of classes, I couldn’t wait to recover, so I could continue making the most of my penultimate semester. It became readily apparent when I was sick that the world doesn’t stop for you when you need time to rest. However, like in many instances, it’s important to be patient with yourself.
I have no idea where I'll be a year from now, which is such a terrifying thought. It took three years for me to truly feel acclimated and at home at the University, and now I have to leave?
I don’t want to lose the sense of comfort I've developed in college with my friends. As an out-of-state student from Florida, I didn’t know what to expect at the University. Fast forward three years, I can’t believe I was able to develop so many attachments to new people and places. It’s difficult to maintain this sense of comfort when we all experience so many life changes.
I’ve reached the point in my college career where I’m now reflecting on my time at the University as a whole. I think about all the difficulties and hardships I experienced, but I’m still flooded with so many good memories from the past three years. I also think about my lasting friendships, and how I’ve grown alongside people who are so important to me. Many of the life lessons I learned, I learned with them. Some of our most notable realizations include prioritizing balance and accepting the reality that no one is perfect, and I plan on taking these with me wherever I end up next.
Like many, I’ve always understood periods of my life as chapters. This chapter is ending, but I have no idea what the next chapter is or who’s in it. I’ve enjoyed the regimented schedule that college offered me, and I don’t know how to begin restructuring my life to the next chapter. I know I don’t have to know right now, but this last year will be bittersweet for me. Now I can apply some of the lessons I’ve learned during my time at the University, such as being flexible and having compassion for myself, because I certainly need it right now.