Real Talk: Senior Year Blues, Annoying Classmates, and Friendship Changes

I’m a senior and I’m terrified to graduate. I feel like these years are the best of my life and everything will go downhill from here. It’s getting to the point where I can’t even live in the moment anymore, as all I can do is think about how much I’ll miss this era. How to shake this feeling?

Hi! Me too! Your college years are such a unique time in your life – you’re transitioning to adulthood, finding yourself, and figuring out what you want to do as a career. There’s a certain excitement to it that you won’t find anywhere else, so it makes sense that you’ll miss it so much. 

On the other hand, it’s a really good sign that you’re going to miss college – it means that you had an incredibly enriching and positive experience! As a senior myself, I completely understand your feelings. It’s weird… you have to look towards the future and start planning for a “real” job, but there’s also so many feelings and moments of nostalgia that you’re experiencing at the same time. No wonder it’s so difficult to live in the moment! 

Keep in mind that your mindset plays a huge role in the outcomes of your future. If you’re going to continue thinking that things will go downhill, and that your college years were the best of your life, you’re setting yourself up to avoid making the best of things after graduation. You may make some awesome memories after college, but if you are comparing those memories and moments to your college experience, you’re going to miss out on the positives and fun of the current moment. 

So, it’s okay to feel nostalgic and reflect on your time in college. Every senior around you is doing it as we prepare to enter the next chapter of our lives, me included! However, make sure to acknowledge all that you have learned and the skills you’ve developed that have prepared you for the “real world.” You have a great education behind you, and I’m sure you will find a path that brings you enjoyment and fulfillment. 

Thinking ahead and reflecting on the past is a very fine balance to maintain, both mentally and emotionally, but it’s possible! Use your past memories to get you excited for the future. You have such a great social and academic foundation that you built for yourself, and now you’re about to apply it in the field you’ve been working towards – how exciting! 

As for struggling to live in the moment, try checking yourself periodically: if you feel like you’re on autopilot and too much in your thoughts, take a deep breath and look around. Try to engage your senses in some way to ground yourself in the present. The method I usually use is to find five things you see, four things you hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. When you make your brain work to be in the moment, it draws you away from thinking about how much you’ll miss it. It will also allow you to create more vivid memories of the rest of your time here. 

Finally, don’t rush these last semesters! Yes, they will fly by, but you have plenty of time left to enjoy college. If you have weekends free (or during break), try engaging with the community outside of campus more (if you don’t already). It could be trying out a new café or place to study, hiking somewhere new, or even walking in a part of town you haven’t before. Make your last months as immersive as possible, and keep reminding yourself of all that you’ve accomplished, and how amazing you’re going to make your future after college! 

I’m in a small seminar class and one of my classmates always tries to dominate the conversation. I was really looking forward to class discussions, but I feel like he’s ruining it. He doesn’t seem to get the professor’s hints, and I don’t know if I should speak up for myself. 

This is such a frustrating and awkward situation to be in, especially when it’s in a smaller class. It’s a time for all of you to share, not just one person! I think you just revealed a pet peeve I didn’t know I had! 

As a student enrolled in the class (who is paying tuition to be in that class like every other student there), it is completely fine for you to speak up for yourself. However, there is a right way and place to do this that ensures respect for the class and the professor. 

I would recommend speaking to the professor about this directly, either over email or in person. If you brought it up in front of the class or directly to the student, it could create an accusatory atmosphere, which could create a lot of tension in the classroom for the remainder of the semester. It doesn’t seem like you’re complaining here – you’re acknowledging the situation and how you’re feeling about it. When you speak to the professor, use empathetic rather than blame-oriented language. Explain how you feel about the situation, and how you feel that it’s ruining the class for you. Your feelings are valid as a student in a shared academic environment with that classmate, but if you come off like you’re attempting to blame the student for ruining the class, it can make the conversation become awkward for both of you. The goal is to voice your concerns and find a solution, not to put someone else down, and it’s important to make that clear!

You are in the right to stand up for yourself and to voice your concerns. The classroom should be a positive learning environment for everyone, particularly when it’s discussion based. Again, if you’re speaking to the professor directly and in a mature, polite way, I’m confident you two can come to a solution together. 

My best friend forgot my birthday this year and I’m hurt. She’s currently studying abroad, so I know I should cut her some slack, but I can’t help but feel like I’m being replaced by her new friends over there. This only makes it feel worse. Am I overreacting?

First, happy birthday!

Second, I don’t think you’re overreacting, but it sounds like the hurt is coming from something deeper than her forgetting your birthday. It sounds like this feeling of being replaced has been impacting you for a while, and it’s a hard position to be in with the physical distance separating you. 

I believe it’s very important to communicate this feeling with her. I’m sure she has no intention of trying to replace you; studying abroad is a very immersive and unique experience, so she’s probably caught up in all the excitement of it. However, that doesn’t make you any less valid as a friend and individual, just because you aren’t abroad with her. 

I have two childhood friends that I was extremely close with growing up, and we eventually went on our own paths. One moved states away, I went to college, and another stayed in our hometown. With the physical distance, we all drifted apart as we grew older. Nonetheless, we still text each other every once in a while, like when we see something that brings up an old memory or a meme that references an inside joke we had, even though we haven’t seen each other in person in years. 

I say all of this because, even though we’re far apart, we haven’t forgotten each other. I think the same is true for you and your best friend – the connection is still there, even though your paths are different right now. My assumption is that this is the first time you two have been apart in the longer term like this, and it’s new to navigate for both of you. It’s especially hard for you, because you’re not embarking on a completely new experience, which is totally okay! I can understand why you’re concerned that you’re being replaced. 

Please, please, please talk to her about this! I guarantee that you will feel a lot better when you do. Let her know how you’re feeling, and you never know, she may be missing you a lot more than you think. Long distance is hard in any type of relationship, and the emotions that follow with the separation can be overwhelming. And it’s totally okay to bring up the birthday as context – “we usually tell each other happy birthday, and when you didn’t this year, it really brought up these feelings that I’m being replaced” (or something like that). No matter how the conversation goes, it’s incredibly important that you communicate these feelings. You will feel like you have a weight off your chest once you share your perspective, and understand hers, I promise!