The end of spring semester is a bittersweet time, where change seems imminent, and in this frantic rush to do it all — study for finals, secure last-minute internships, renew or sign apartment leases — the last thing we may want to do is reflect on the past year. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
Soon seniors will cram the contents of their last four years into cardboard boxes. Dorms will be empty. The oppressive Mid-Atlantic humidity will surge in. And all of our tightly wrapped-up social circles will disperse to different corners of the world for the summer, or perhaps, for an indefinite period of time.
I’m grateful that junior year is coming to a close, thankful to be out of the mindset that every week is hell week and every day is a poor day. There is no sugarcoating reality: It’s grueling to be a college student, no matter how much you love your major or how much you enjoy studying.
And Hopkins can work you into a frenzy. You’re the hamster in the wheel that can never run fast enough. Your to-do list is like the Hydra: Every time you cross one task off, another three spring up.
Daily, you ask yourself: When will it end? When can I take a break? In certain moments, it seems like the answer is never.
I have had plenty of those times. When, post-panic attack, I wandered around campus and felt small and helpless. When I cried in my poetry class after hearing someone read “Love After Love” by Derek Walcott. When I missed class due to sheer exhaustion from skipping meals and skimping on sleep. When I felt inadequate and worthless for every bad grade and every rejection letter that I received.
But there was also that time we drove to Ocean City, Md. and stood on the boardwalk, looking out into the impossible blue of the Atlantic. Waking up to soft snow lining my windowsill on the weekends. The night we went to Fells at midnight and danced and laughed like crazy. Every Thursday morning after completing production night for The News-Letter when I shared a group hug with the News & Features team.
These moments, the good and the bad, collectively form the last nine months of my life. Taking the time to examine these experiences, both positive and negative, helped me to see the growth that has taken place over the last year. I am not the same person I was back in August. This is both liberating and frightening.
I struggle to embrace change, because I am a creature of habit and repetition. But consistency often leads to stagnation and the inability to allow personal growth.
Sometimes, this growth will be difficult to accept. I’ve drifted away from people whom I used to consider my closest confidants. But others have emerged to fill those spaces in new and surprising ways.
If anything, this semester I have learned that the world is full of endlessly interesting people, that relationships constantly evolve, and that solitude is to be cherished and valued.
In reflecting at the end of this school year, I’ve also started to ask myself questions. Where can I improve? What personal goals should I work on over the summer in order to help myself? What can I do better next year? Am I growing in a direction that I am comfortable and happy with?
I hope to continue to reflect over the summer, through my final year at Hopkins and even after I graduate. And in this time of goodbyes and endings, I’m pressing pause for just a moment to catch my breath and look back.