Dear Member of the class of 2016,
Well, this is it. I know you've simultaneously dreaded and looked forward to this year -- your last year in college, ever -- since you were a tiny, wide-eyed, anxious freshman.
Now it's here, and it isn't stopping for your nostalgia. Congratulations on making it this far with your liver still somewhat intact and only a mild case of HPV.
I graduated from Boston College (GO EAGLES) this past May. About one year ago, before my senior year began, I was exactly where you are, only the spring semester of my junior year was by far the worst semester of my college career.
I was forced to re-enter the real world after a life-changing fall semester abroad spent in Europe, where I could legally drink and my sole purpose was to have fun; my ex-boyfriend and I tried and ultimately failed to fix our relationship, leading me to experience my first real episodes of public drunken sadness; and all of my summer internship applications went unanswered, plaguing me with soul-crushing self-doubt about what I wanted to do with my life.
Needless to say, I was more than ready for an amazing senior year. Or at least a decent one.
Thankfully, senior year delivered. I finally turned 21, my ex had graduated, and I landed my dream job. Sh*t was going up.
This won't be the best year of your life.
Seniors, this won't be the best year of your life. I assure you that. Anyone who tells you that college was "the best four years" peaked in college, and you don't want to be that person.
In fact, when you see people around you who are peaking, think to yourself, "Damn, is this REALLY as good as it gets for them?" Then prepare to watch them rapidly spiral downward on social media next summer. It will be so tragic.
But you will not be one of those people.
Still, you should make the most of this year. This isn't your last ever chance to have fun, but it is your last ever chance to be a college student, and that's just as crucial of a thing to capitalize on.
Please don't YOLO.
Your motto this year should be a shrug and a "Why not?"
If your hookup buddy wants to get it on in an academic building, shrug and say "Why not?" If you want to dye your hair pink or get a weird piercing, shrug and say "Why not?" If you aren't sure whether or not you should go out on a Tuesday, shrug and say "Why not?"
Go the f*ck out on a Tuesday and sit in your history class the next morning wanting to die because you're so hungover.
If the extent of your "Why not?" is "I will be tired the next day" or "There's a slight chance I'll get caught," do the thing. Just do the thing.
Don't let the fact that you're becoming a so-called responsible adult make you lose sight of the importance of having fun this year.
Note that this is not the same as YOLO. Don't do something that'll land you real disciplinary action or get you banned from important senior week activities or graduation. I've seen this happen, and it's not pretty.
Just be smart in your stupidity, okay? That's all I ask.
Don't do sh*t you don't want to.
The best part about becoming a real adult -- which is what you're doing, allegedly -- is you don't have to do something you don't want to do just because your friends are doing it.
This year, you don't have to go out every night, to every drunk brunch or to every senior event if you don't feel like it.
I promise it won't be the end of the world if you miss a big night at the bars or the mud volleyball tournament at the end of the year.
Just avoid social media for a few hours (until the influx of tagged pictures stops erupting on your newsfeed), and it'll stop mattering so much.
Because at the end of the day, while you're in college to have fun, you're also there to get educated and find a damn job.
You will find a job.
Many of you are panicking because you don't have a job lined up. Many of you are also panicking because your parents are probably bothering you about having a job lined up.
At this point last year, I'm pretty sure the only people who had jobs in my grade were in finance, so you don't have anything to worry about yet -- unless you're in finance, in which case, get looking, kid.
But if you're freaking out about jobs, don't. The job market has improved. Plus, if you don't limit yourself to just what you think you can do with your major, your window of opportunities will widen significantly.
I work as a staff writer for a major Internet publication (i.e., the one you are reading now) and I didn't major in English. I majored in communications and sociology and finished half a minor in computer science, a combination that could get me...um...I still have no clue.
But, hey, it got me here. I'm here, and I'm employed. I have a job in writing, and so can you. Or, you know, in whatever you want, really.
Seriously, you will find a job.
When you graduate, you'll automatically have an entire alumni network to reach out to for help, so make sure you take advantage of the connections you'll have with people who went to your school or who were in your sorority or fraternity. That's a big part of how I got my job.
We, your alumni network, love you and want nothing more than to help you succeed. Our heart leaps when we get an email from a fellow (insert your mascot here).
Just trust me that you'll find a job. Even if it happens a few months after graduation (lots of my recently graduated friends didn't find jobs until this summer), you'll find a job. Don't focus so much on it that it wakes you up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
What you should focus on instead is shrugging and saying why not and soaking in every last second of being a senior.
The people you surround yourself with matter.
I don't need to tell you that friendship is important. You already know that.
But here's a reminder: Think about the, say, five people you know you'll stay in touch with after graduation (you'll be lucky if it's five) and strengthen your relationships with them.
These people will be your rocks. They'll be there when you get lonely after college ends.
At the same time, though, don't neglect your acquaintances. Make time for those people, for the people you'll never see again after this year. They matter in their own ways -- you'll just have to work a little harder to figure out their purpose in your life.
Your love life is obviously important, too, but it shouldn't be your number one focus.
If you're single, don't put pressure on meeting someone special. Dating gets harder after graduation, but I assure you it's possible, so put your energy elsewhere, like on those friends and acquaintances, and on shrugging and saying why not.
If you're in a relationship, don't stay together because you think you'll never meet someone ever again. If it's not working, break up.
Or, if it is working, let your love for each other grow and motivate you to tackle post-grad challenges together, like the inevitable long distance (which I know for college students translates to "not living a dorm building away from each other anymore").
Just do what feels right. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. We're all going to die anyway.
College is your home, but it won't be for long.
After you graduate, college will never really be home again. Sure, you'll be able to go back and hang out in the same dining halls, the same football stadiums and the same shitty bars, but the people make college home above anything else.
Each year, new people get rotated in and old people get rotated out. When you go back to campus for alumni weekends, the energy will be different. The equilibrium shifts.
So next year, the freshmen won't be the freshmen anymore. The people in your hall won't live in your hall anymore. The group of kids you know as the sketch comedy kids, or the a capella kids or the soccer kids won't be the same group anymore.
This is why you have to make time for everyone, from the few people you'll stay in touch with after graduation to the people you'll never see again.
Because whenever you see them next year, whether it's at a football game or in a random city, they will be frozen in time in your mind.
And they'll feel like home.
You're special, but you're not that special.
I'll be the first to tell you that you kind of own the school right now. You've never been more loved and respected by your peers and faculty members than you will be this year. I know you've been waiting three years for this moment, so you're allowed to take advantage.
If you're the president of a club, be a fearless, inspirational leader. If you're a TA or a research assistant, be the best damn help you can be. Take over tailgates, dictate who gets into your party and who doesn't, skip class if you want. Prance around campus like the big shot you are.
Just make sure you prepare yourself for next year, when you'll become a nobody again. A bottom-dwelling, insignificant nobody.
Happy senior year, kids. And remember: Snapchat doesn't last as long as memories.
Someone who wishes she were you