Nostalgia looms. What were once firsts become lasts. No more football tailgates in the Mods. The final time I sign onto Boston College UIS, come and gone. Fall midterms, static events of the past—never did I think I would become sentimental about exams. Amazing what time can do to one’s pathos.
Perspective, perspective, perspective. That’s what I’m told. Four years—friends made, classes passed, games attended, hours in O’Neill, in Hillside, in Stokes—all culminating in the ending of a moment. The existential crisis of a graduating collegiate.
Reflecting on this occasion, let us consider recent news about a study conducted by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at BC. The study revealed a disparity in confidence levels between our freshman and senior selves. The female graduate, despite maintaining a high GPA, has, by and large, lost confidence. As I mull over these last four years, I can (painfully) admit to identifying with this data. Although I do not regard myself as particularly lacking in self-assurance, I do feel as though my freshman self was far more eager to dive in, head first. My senior self, I now realize, is gripping helplessly to memories gone by, wary of leaving them behind as I step out into the arena, the big leagues of adult life.
While it is true that this decrease is partially attributed to experiencing the male-dominated hookup culture, the media’s pressure on women to be effortlessly perfect, and the stress of our demanding student life, I see a bigger culprit at work here—a lack of an empowered sense of self, due to my own regrets.
Forget external circumstances. In all honesty, my loss of confidence has to do with reminiscing on things I wish I did but didn’t, friends I wish I made but haven’t, relationships with teachers I wish I cultivated just a little bit more, but stopped short instead. I do not mean this to be a treatise on self-pity. I simply mean to impart to younger students advice I wish I listened to when I thought myself more invincible and complete, as I’m sure in much the same way as many of you are feeling now.
I remember being told at freshman orientation: Get involved. “Of course,” I thought to myself. But then I applied to a few positions and got rejected, so instead I committed myself to my classwork, thinking the whole time, “I’ll apply again to get involved, just not right now.”
As I let semesters pass, it seemed increasingly difficult to insert myself into our vibrant extracurricular life. Maybe that concern has a basis, maybe not—I don’t know, since I never really tried again. If you are going to heed anything here, it should be this—do not put off what you can do today until tomorrow. Sentimentality aside, time really does fly by. Opportunities are missed.
That is my challenge to the undergraduates. To my peers in the class of 2016 who might be feeling as I do right now, we can find a different antidote to the problem at hand. Let’s return to the age-old chant—perspective, perspective, perspective. In order to make the most of these coming months, we must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of retrospective wistfulness. To once again become that younger, more forward-thinking version of ourselves, we must posture to let the past go. Not to forget the happiness or sadness of reminiscence, no, but to be focused on what is now in our control rather than what was.
Thus our rhetorical situation—if there is any time for confidence, it should be right now. Let us not fall victim to the statistics. Together, we can graduate with a sense of renewed energy, motivation, and power, if we only help ourselves to get there in tandem. We can still make new friends. We can still live new experiences. We can always keep learning.
Now is the time to do what we haven’t. We have a rekkj newed sense of purpose—let us act on it. Ask that cute boy in your dorm out on a date. Sit down with your professor and discuss the complexities of life. Take the class you’ve always wanted to. Ever to excel, right?
If my sentimentality has been mawkish, forgive me. If you are not one for romantic nostalgia, forgive me. But if we look beyond the gooeyness of these words, I know we can all find meaning here. Let us attend to it. Go Eagles.
Featured Image by Breck Wills / Heights Graphics