Walking around campus, I can’t help but notice the various flowers blooming around me, and admiring the light, crisp “spring green” of the tree leaves. I also can’t help but feel like my time at Vanderbilt is speeding to a close. Despite the fact that I technically have a full year left after this semester wraps up, I can’t shake the increasing conviction that I’m aging out of undergrad.
This idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem; with each school year amounting to about six months on campus, my time as a carefree undergrad is indeed draining away like quicksand. Perhaps it’s natural to become increasingly sentimental with age, particularly given an undergraduate experience filled with endless “unprecedented” disruptions. I’ve heard many peers express how they feel a full year younger than they are, giving credit to the pandemic for making them feel so out of place. I think there is much truth in this sentiment; we essentially lost a year and a half of a full, robust college experience that prompts exponential personal growth, which has probably contributed to many of us feeling much older, and perhaps fed up with college, yet still like a high schooler, first-year or sophomore inside.
When I reflect on my time on campus, many of my memories are from my first year and a half, when everything was “normal” and I took gatherings with masses of people for granted. It’s ironic to see how while I once complained that Rand was too crowded during lunch time, I now eagerly await the day when it is jam-packed with ravenous students standing in line elbow to elbow, filled with laughter and intense chatter about last minute exam tips.
However, it’s also interesting how the last school year and a half that has been disrupted by the pandemic has brought an equal, if not greater, number of fond memories for me. Sure, they look different, and mainly consist of getting coffee or lunch with individual friends, Zoom calls and walking around Nashville with masks on. But, I have a feeling that even though these experiences may feel lacking (in excitement, normalcy, etc.) in the moment, I will smile looking back on them with equal fondness as my experiences during “normal” times. I think what makes our lives so full are these mundane and seemingly inconsequential moments that become some of our most cherished memories.
Another topic I’ve been reflecting on recently is my involvement in the Vanderbilt community. During my time at Vandy, I’ve been on the Mock Trial team, Vanderbilt Student Government, a VUceptor, Peabody Academic Leader (PAL), member of the Vanderbilt Student Communications (VSC) Board, member of the professional business fraternity AKPsi and a writer and editor for The Hustler (of course!). As applications begin rolling out regarding leadership roles in campus orgs for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, instead of feeling eager to apply and become further involved as I have in previous years, I’ve felt a strange sense of peace and closure.
In the past, I felt excited to take on more responsibilities in orgs because it’d give me the chance to make them better. Now, I feel comfortable taking a step back, knowing I’ve given significant energy, time and heart to everything I’ve participated in. I’m ready to watch from the sidelines as my younger peers, brimming with the energy and desire to move orgs towards a better future, make this campus their own.
Although I still greatly care about the Vandy community, particularly given all the challenges we’ve weathered during the pandemic, I increasingly feel ready to be a mentor who is happy to provide assistance if asked, but equally happy to watch others forge ahead on their own. Perhaps it’s this change in perspective and role from active, young participant to older, more experienced student leader that makes me feel like I’m aging out of the undergrad experience the most. I find myself increasingly thinking about life beyond Vandy, and satisfied with all that I’ve contributed to. Perhaps this is a classic indicator of an upcoming bout of senioritis (this time, college edition!), but whatever it is that’s waiting for me, I’m ready.