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Bottom of the 9th

Apr.9.2010

Posted on Landmark Leadership as “With all these emotions, I could use some “Vitamin C”…No, not the graduation song.”

My last undergraduate semester is more than halfway over, and it’s really setting in.  Thankfully, I can (academically) relax a little bit, a few papers and exams away from a very comfortable graduation, plans set in place for a NODA internship this summer followed by Graduate studies at Texas A&M next fall, a graduate assistantship in Res Life and all the perks that come with it.  But for some reason, I can’t shake this very unnerving fan as I navigate my last few weeks of meetings.  The best way that I can describe it is some kind of ‘5 stages of graduation.’  No, I’m not in the registrars office trying to bargain my way out of earned credits or pleading with the Dean to decline my degree audit, but I’m finding that this ‘emotional rollercoaster’ that I’m told is senior year has some very real parallels to the ‘5 stages’ theory, with some obvious changes; it’s not life or death.

1. Excitement:

That “Jersey Shore-esque” fist pump, realizing that only have I conquered your first 3 years and round into the final stretch, but I have all the “privileges” that come with it.  I built a network of friends to enjoy my last months with, get first preference of housing, and classes; I can attend all of the ‘Senior’ events that don’t involve early bird breakfasts, and all the friends that I grew apart from over the course of changed majors and crazy schedules become united once again.  On the ‘top of the heap,’ so to speak, and life is good.

2. Stress:

I realize that while I have all kinds of benefits of being a Senior, it’s not going to last forever.  The reality of jobs, grad school, and post-graduate life all sets in, and the anxiety level skyrockets.  With focus and goals to reach, it becomes ‘game time,’ and resumes, cover letters, applications, suit shopping, and interviewing become common conversation topics.  Winter ‘break’ feels more like a pause from classes than the typical halt of involvement, and therefore ‘life’ as it once was.

3. Anticipation:

Waiting pretty much embodies this stage. Send the applications out, and wait. And wait, and wait. Plan out my options when the waiting comes to an end, regardless of the outcome.  Graduation almost becomes irrelevant as the ‘next step’ becomes of more clear focus.  The anticipation clears, turning to excitement once plans become ‘real,’ and my future is decidedly more defined.

4. Transition:

This has easily been the most difficult stage for me.  I’m writing down all of the steps that I took in transition binders, and preparing my successors for their role in the positions.  Underclassmen stop me and ask for advice about applications and interviews for campus leadership roles, curious how they will navigate their own leadership experience.  This portion is empowering  and fun, until the realization of those final meetings set in.  You wonder who is going to think about or recognize any of the things that you did when you leave.  I look around at other leaders in the Senior class ready to move on, and I find that my interest (near obsession) with student affairs along with 3 years in my position becomes apparent in my difficulty letting go.  My time to impact is nearing it’s close, and it’s time to prepare others for their opportunities!

I’m told that number 5 sounds like something like

5. Happiness/Accomplishment:

I’m going to have to take the word of some of my favorite student affairs pros on this one and submit that by the time I will walk across the stage, I will be psyched.  Once that last meeting, final transition, and realization of what I’m actually going to be able to do (getting closer to the larger goals that I have for myself), I will be ecstatic.  The realization that ‘I DID IT!’ will finally set in, and I can just sit back and enjoy my last few weeks.

I’m looking forward to crossing off number 4 and moving forward, and believe me I’m ready for that roadtrip to Berea, OH and the Orientation team at Baldwin-Wallace College, but it’s a little unnerving for the time being.

Do you remember your transition from your undergraduate on to the next step?  How’d I do?


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jillian Zalewski permalink
    Apr.22.2010 12:21 am

    Brian, I will agree with you on being in the transition stage right now. You put how I was feeling into words, which I found extremely difficult to do. As the 30 day mark rolls by, I also want to assist other students in their quest for student involvement and even every day challenges of life, because I am nervous of what is to become of the University as I walk across the stage. Really great insight and I cannot also wait for the feeling of happiness/accomplishment.

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