Reflections on Senior Year

Nora Turriago '16Opinions Editor

Starting a new school year at Smith College brings a flurry of emotions, and this is particularly true if you are a senior. Not only is the beginning of the year marked by excitement, but there is also the overwhelming reminder that what was once previously taken for granted at Smith (house teas, late night treks into town, study sessions with fellow housemates and, of course, the whirlwind of glitter and pandemonium that is Convocation) actually has, in fact, an expiration date. Enjoying every moment of senior year – from bonding with the first-years in your house to finally picking apples on Mountain Day – is an absolute necessity in making the most out of this last year. As a senior, it is incredibly easy to get caught up in trying to map out the future and control the unknown (namely, this “real life” phenomena that awaits after May 15). Class of 2016, I am writing to give you this reminder: Please don’t place unneeded stress and pressure on yourself (Okay, fine but at least wait until J-term to freak out). Please be patient and gentle with yourself. Remember that although the future can be a scary prospect, it can also be incredibly exciting. Who will you become? How will you grow? What will the next chapter of your life entail? What adventure will you go on? It is my hope that Smith College seniors remember to have fun, to laugh and not take anything too seriously. At Smith, with a passionate and driven student body, we don’t usually hear that message. Instead, we hear people discussing their life plans, their accomplishments and the next big thing they need to tackle. Um, here’s a little request: can you relax, for, like, a second? Maybe it’s because I was abroad for a year and was able to experience a slower, more relaxed way of life, but it definitely helped put things into perspective. I’m not saying it’s bad to be interested in pursuing your passions—far from it.  But it’s easy to compare yourself (and your resume) to others, and it’s also easy to put unneeded pressure on yourself to constantly strive to do more: to perfect all your homework, find 10 job possibilities by next month and map out the people you need to meet with in the coming year. If this sounds like you, here’s some advice: give yourself a break! Stepping away from the constant frenzy of deadlines and to-do lists offers the opportunity to keep perspective on the things that matter. Listen to me clearly: no assignment or job application or whatever is worth more than your personal well-being. Yep, I said it. So please, have some fun, remember to laugh and don’t think you have to have all the answers. Because no one does! Everyone is pretending, just like you! Seniors, I want to end with a quote that is a personal favorite and, I think, very relevant and important to remember throughout our final year at Smith College. Rainer Maria Rilke, an Austrian poet who died in 1926, he wrote: “I beg you…To have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday in the far future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”