This year’s Orientation will mark my fourth, and — as long as all goes well — final orientation on the River Campus. Bittersweet doesn’t begin to explain how I have been feeling these past two weeks.

The first article I ever wrote for the CT was titled “My house is changing.” In what is still my best article to date, I reflect on the anxiety I felt leaving my hometown and not getting to watch it evolve in real time. I reflect on how scary it is to visualize yourself in another city.

The prompt for the article came from our great former Editor-in-Chief, Hailie Higgins, who asked, “Would your middle school self be proud of you today?” While my article strayed away from addressing the question, the prompt reminded me of how terrified I was of moving away from my hometown only years before I actually did. I also did not know that three years from then I would be serving as Publisher of this publication.

Now as I ascend into my senior year, I look back and ask myself if the first-year who wrote that article would be proud of me. I like to think that they would be.

There’s a lot of pressure to make the absolute most of college. Pressure that comes from attending such a financially burdensome institution as our own, but also social pressure. We’ve been told our whole lives that these would be the best years of our lives. It’s not that I haven’t done a lot in my measly three, not completely in-person years here at UR. I was president of multiple clubs, took classes across many disciplines, and even tried out Greek life for a short stint. 

Senior year’s approach is still scary. It means that I only have one year left with all of my friends at such a close proximity. It also means that I have no idea where I will be living or what I will be doing this time next year, and the possibilities are daunting. I’m trying to live in the moment and enjoy my last few months while also proactively planning for the future that awaits me.

It’s scary getting older. It’s even scarier closing a chapter of your life. I am at the very summit of a mountain where I have to balance two things — reaching out and grasping for the clouds above while remembering to look down at the mountain I’ve conquered below me. Where I will be on May 15, 2023 — the day after commencement — is unknowable.

At the end of the day, I just want to continue to make myself proud. While I occasionally think about ‘making the most of my time here,’ it’s often the times that I’m not thinking about it that I’m actually doing it. I’ve gotten lost in my time here and that’s why these three years have slipped away from me.

So that’s my advice for the class of 2026 for this year’s orientation edition. Don’t worry so much. The most important things about your time here will happen without you trying to make them happen. Just try as many things as you can, like writing one article for your newspaper (shameless self-promo), and see where it leads.

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