I remember meeting seniors when I was a freshman almost four years ago. It felt like I was meeting someone from another generation — another dimension, even. While I was struggling to remember which Regional Transit System bus would take me home, they seemed like they knew everything and done everything. The word senior seemed synonymous with wisdom. And I hoped I probably would have this wisdom, too, by senior year. I had time.
I started picturing myself as a college senior and painting a mental picture of the person I would be at graduation. She was probably a spin class instructor and the president of a really important club. She was a straight-A student with a huge friend group of girls who all had super soft hair. She had a boyfriend and a job offer. She was a journalist. I am none of those things, except maybe the latter, depending on who you ask.
I also thought senior year I would know how to make an omelet or how one even begins to run stadiums. I didn’t think I would still be quietly getting confused between 13th Street and West University Avenue. But I graduate in four months, and here we are.
It’s weird to call ourselves seniors when we don’t feel like seniors at all. It feels like a title I haven’t earned — not because “time flies” or any other cliche our parents have spewed at us, but because we used to picture our senior year selves as these real adults, fully ready to leave college and completely on-track to become whatever (and whomever) we thought we wanted to be. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not quite there yet. I have a long way to go before I become who I pictured four years ago.
Seniors aren’t the only ones entitled to this impostor syndrome either. How I pictured myself as a college freshman differed completely from the real thing, too. Just as I’m sure the way I picture myself as a twenty-something or a thirty-something will be a lot different from reality, too.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
If we want to make our 18-year-old selves happy, we have a lot to do in the next four months. We could spend it trying to accomplish all of the things we thought we would, or we could spend it enjoying the semester-long syllabus week standing between us and graduation. I’m gonna go with B., semester-long syllabus week.
Besides, if I had miraculously become the person my freshman-self dreamed up, I would be nothing like the person I am now — a person that I’m starting to like. I wouldn’t have had time to meet the people I’ve met or space in my planner for “The Office,” marathons with those people.
The person I pictured freshman year sounds lovely, but she’s missing a few things — things I didn’t know I wanted for myself when I was 18. I never pictured that I’d pick up a dance minor for fun, intern at a magazine in New York or spend nearly as much money at Salty Dog Saloon as I have. I never thought I’d get space for my opinions in the Alligator every Wednesday, and I never thought I’d end my first column of the semester with a Taylor Swift lyric.
To my freshman year self, I am sorry to say: Your idea of yourself as a senior can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead, and something better may be taking her place.
Carly Breit is a senior journalism major at UF. Her column appears on Wednesdays.