Living under the weight of senior anxiety


Photo credit: Jessica Johnson

To be near graduation is a lonely thing. The anxieties and fears of a senior student go beyond midterms and papers and inch into the metaphysical.

What will I do? Where will I go? Am I ready? The seniors at Chico State are all living under a looming fear. Although graduation represents a great accomplishment, it also represents a great insecurity.

One of the most common questions a senior can hear from his peers and friends is, “What do you want to do?” Most of the answers that they’ll get back are just different variations of “I don’t know.”

Sure, many seniors have a plan, or a desire, or a general inclination towards an area, but no one really knows where life is going to lead them. The fact that this insecurity lies at a crucial shift in one’s life only makes the anxiety worse.

Many students have only known academia for their whole lives. Everyone’s had a job, but to suddenly shift from student to functioning adult within society is an extreme leap. That’s mostly because no one ever feels like an adult; there is no cataclysmic shift in a life to demarcate the difference between childhood and adulthood.

To be asked “What do you want to do with your life?” compounds on that approaching dread. 90 percent of the time students just laugh it off, or give some vague answer without any concrete plans or decisions.

Nothing’s wrong with that, everyone is unsure, everyone has fears about their future. What’s sick is that sometimes we keep that fear to ourselves. It might seem like everyone else has their life under control, but everyone else is fumbling around in the dark too.

What if students discussed their anxieties and fears? What if students supported each other through a shared chaos instead of keeping the tension inside of their chest and letting it swell?

Graduating students all have an existential fear of their future inside of them, and by keeping that fear from everyone else we alienate ourselves further and swim deeper in our dread. Senior anxiety needs to become an open thing, something discussed in classes. We need to tackle fears head on and group together for further success.

To support one another not only lessens the collective disquiet, it fortifies students for success. There’s no reason students should tackle the rest of their lives alone, and talking more openly about senior anxiety might be that first step.

If nothing else, it feels good to talk about that fear.

Grayson Boyer can be reached at the [email protected] or @gray_boyer on Twitter.