COLUMN: Remember to dance before you walk

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Photo credit: Grace Wride

I loved college from the first day. While my roommate quietly cried in the bed across from mine, I eagerly waited for the first day of classes. I’ve made my best friends here, I’ve found what I’m passionate about and I’ve grown a little closer to who I want to be here. I love that my sole responsibility has been to learn and hang out with my friends.

I already know I’m going to be that annoying mom who talks too frequently about my college days. My kids will never hear the end of roommate dance parties, irrational all-nighters and Jessica Banks.

And I have less than two weeks of it left. Then I’ll be learning how to function as an actual adult with salary, insurance, bills and all the other fun things that come with graduation.

Photo credit: Madison Babcock
Photo credit: Madison Babcock

I’ve made massive mistakes during my last semester — a main one being my hyper fixation with the contents of the paragraph above — and general anxiety regarding all aspects of the future. I’ve also done things gloriously well with my time. There’s no right or wrong way to handle your final months of college, but I have some recommendations to at least limit your stress and maximize the amount of memories you make.

Mix It Up

If you’re a senior, you’ve been doing the whole college thing for a long time now. You’ve probably nailed down a routine of when to do homework on campus and when to go home for lunch. Maybe it’s gotten monotonous. Don’t let the ease of your groove anchor you to the bottom of the sea of senioritis. Getting bored just makes the last semester drag on. Try moving your break to a new building. Take the chance to get acquainted with new corners of campus before you escape it forever. You might even make new friends or find a new favorite painting.

Beyond mixing up the routine of my everyday schedule, I wanted to implement some more changes to my normal life. In the beginning of this semester, my friend invited me on a weekend trip with an organization called Outdoor Adventure Crew. I almost said no, but I wanted to do something different and taking a trip to the Tetons with 50 strangers was definitely different for me.

Photo credit: Grace Wride

That trip gave me a new perspective on life after college. Before, I had worried that my social life would suffer and I’d get stuck with a job I didn’t love after graduation. On the trip, I met many recent college graduates who showed me that life still exists in a fun way after graduating. I realized that I would have more Teton-trip experiences even after college.

Basically, if you have a chance to mix up your life a bit, do it. You can attain a new perspective and see some pretty sights along the way.

Put Fun First Sometimes

I’m an averagely studious person. I always turn in my work on time and worked hard to do well in my job. I’ve become familiar with what my campus looks like after 8 p.m.

Photo courtesy of a fellow dodie fan.
Photo courtesy of a fellow dodie fan.

This semester, I’ve made the conscious effort to spend time with my friends rather than getting everything done by a certain time. I’ve also put fun above what might be financially responsible. I’m sure not everyone has the luxury of doing this, but if you do, please make the effort.

Some of my favorite memories of these last four years have happened within the last few months, because I’ve let go of the stress of giving everything I have to my school work. I’ve left more space for fun and friends.

I let myself fall into a new friend group. A fun one that led to impulsive car camping and many late night energy drink runs. I let myself lose track of time and get caught up in laughing fits more frequently than before. I’ve invested in movie marathons and day trips to Utah to catch concerts. My grades have taken a slight hit, but nothing too concerning.

If you have a tendency to dedicate all your time to homework, give yourself a little grace in the form of fun with friends.

Take Classes You’re Excited About

If you plan right, and don’t switch your major too many times, your last semester can be full of classes you want to take outside of your major. Do you have an interest in creative writing you haven’t had the chance to pursue? Is there a recreational badminton class you’ve been eyeing? Maybe you just want to develop a new skill. Whatever it is — take it.

I would avoid taking a boring class just because it’s easy. Even easy classes require some amount of work that you will not want to do if you’re uninterested and burnt out.

I took conflict management my second to last semester and, not to be dramatic, that changed my life forever. It was three credits and a semi hefty workload, but I decided not to let that deter me from taking it. I might have missed out on important lessons if I had stuck with easier classes.

Set Aside Time to Stress Out

I started my relationship with Indeed.com far too early in my last semester. This led me down a path of compulsive job hunting and too many job interviews sprinkled in throughout assignments and other, more pressing, work. I got myself into a mess of stress because I constantly thought of the future. I felt like if I wasn’t working towards finding a job, I would lose my chance to find one at all.

Once I started working on my senior project, I set aside the job hunt and told myself to worry about it later. That helped eliminate a lot of future-related anxiety. Now that my project is complete, I’ve decided to continue this mindset and will only apply for jobs on weekends.

Photo credit: Julia Brunette

Setting aside time to stress and plan for the future allows you to enjoy the present more. You won’t feel as burnt out when you apply for jobs because you’ll be rejuvenated. This will also help you take a more intentional approach to your job hunt. Since I’m (hopefully) not applying for jobs out of fear, I’m applying out of genuine interest.

Your last months of college can leave you burnt out and praying for the day you get your diploma. I know there have been times when I’ve felt like that. They can also become some of your favorites of your whole life — thankfully I relate to this too.

I’ve learned to stress less, let myself have fun and look forward to the future. I hope by implementing these ideals into my life, I will love college from my first day to my last day. Hopefully you will too.