The fall of 2018 – my freshman year – was a dream. I remember it like it was yesterday: meeting new people, experiencing the Terrace for the first time and attending Badger games for the first time as a student.
I felt on top of the world like college was going to last forever. Little did I know how quickly it would fly by.
Fast forward to my sophomore year. The COVID-19 pandemic came and hit campus hard. It wasn’t ideal by any means, but that's okay. UW handled it as best they could. Spending a year and a half online was less than thrilling, as I’m sure many college students felt. We watched friends and older siblings graduate through computer screens rather than in-person, classes were listened to while we lay in bed and friendships were maintained through Snapchat streaks and Facetime calls.
And all too suddenly, it was senior year. The fall of my senior year brought excitement as the campus finally returned to in-person classes, and it made COVID feel like a weird nightmare that we had collectively woken up from. Seeing people in person for the first time was odd; they seemed a lot taller or a lot shorter than they appeared in their little Zoom boxes. We had to adjust to life back in person, but it was no big deal — we had adjusted to COVID pretty okay.
The fall semester went by all too quickly. Classes, clubs and exciting sports events whisked us through the seasons in a flash. Parents soon began to remind their senior students that graduation was quickly approaching. We didn’t want to believe them, because after graduation comes the scary stuff — the “being a real adult” stuff.
Some majors don’t require or have internships, so those students will be entering their job fields often for the first time. Other majors who had internships are trying to score a long-standing position at their dream company. Interviews and classwork are intertwined in such a way that you don’t realize how much time has passed until, well, now it’s April.
There are two weeks until graduation, and it feels like the city is buzzing with anticipation. This is the first in-person graduation in two years. For the first time in two years, we will be able to gather in Camp Randall on a nice warm day in May and jump around one last time as undergraduates.
And it. Is. Terrifying.
The world and adulting is a scary thing. Job offers are coming in, and you don’t want to make a mistake, don’t want to pick the wrong position. There’s a lot of pressure and what feels like not a lot of time to figure out what needs to be done to find out where you need to go. Those similar feelings from freshman year come rushing back.
We are greeted with the fear and excitement of the unknown. But, just like we handled COVID and online learning with grace, we will handle adulthood with grace just the same. Adulthood is scary, just like being a freshman was scary. Lucky for us, we are well prepared from our time at UW, we know that scary feeling won’t last forever. We will have new and exciting things to experience, new places to explore and new people to meet.
Take a big deep breath before the drop into adulthood, it’ll all be alright.