The secret to senior year

Heck if I know any freakin’ secret. I only barely finished the second week of my senior year at USC without keeling over.

Initially, I was going to write a post entitled “My Last First Day,” because I thought that was clever, and then the night before my last first day of school rolled around, and my Facebook newsfeed was crawling with “last first day” statuses.

So THANKS A LOT, FRIENDS, you ruined my blog post.

Also, I’ve come to a realization as I’ve been going to new classes and meeting new people—I am so, totally, flat-out exhausted. All. The. Time. And I don’t entirely understand why.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m, like, officially old now? I know where all my classes are without having to look at a map (*high-fives self*), I have a group of friends with whom I meet up for coffee and lunch like grown-ups. I don’t particularly feel the need to prove myself in the college world anymore.

But I think more than anything, it has to do with the fact that I’m just… tired. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, even spiritually. I’ve uprooted so many times in the past few years, what with moving twice and my London semester. And in spite of all this, for almost 4 years USC has represented a sort of same-old-same-old groove in my life, and now that I’m back in it, maybe all of that exhaustion is finally settling in.

I tried to write this post over the summer, but it came out sounding really flat and boring, and I think it’s because I was trying to write about “adulthood.” And honestly, nobody wants to read about that.

Everyone wants to recapture their childhood. We hear ourselves saying the phrase, “When I was your age…” and we secretly hate ourselves for it, because we can’t remember when the “your age” days ended and the “when I was” days began.

I don’t. I don’t even remember when I stopped playing with dolls. I don’t remember when I started dabbing makeup under my eyes to cover the dark circles. I don’t remember when the summers of backyard Slip-‘N-Slide ended and the summers of free labor began.

And it’s funny, because I didn’t feel like a senior until after I’d already gone to multiple pizza party mixers, shaken hands with my fair share of 17-year-old freshmen, and attempted to answer the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” twenty plus times. My last first day at USC was ordinary, like I hadn’t even been gone for 8 months—I literally rolled out of bed and went to class still wearing my pajama bottoms.

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And at the end of the day I found myself thinking… is this it?

This is senior year? Two cups of coffee per day, a new notebook, and the first science class I’ve taken since high school? More days spent waking up to an empty apartment, and biking down the streets of LA in 100-degree weather, the same thing I’ve done for 3 years?

At the end of this summer, I started to remember the reason why I came to Los Angeles in the first place. I wanted something different. I needed to leave things behind. I wanted to explore, remake myself, be the person I never could be growing up.

And I chose this city because it’s full of people exactly like me. Restless souls, searching for something that can sate our appetites for the bizarre, wild, unfamiliar. We are rootless. Sleepless.

Unsatisfied.

The moment I finally felt like a senior was the moment I realized that when I was a freshmen, I had people older than me to guide me, help me learn who I was, point me toward a goal bigger than getting a good job and making decent money—and now, I am one of those people.

Being a senior in high school meant leaving my old world behind. Being a senior in college means giving my old world away.

The past few weeks at USC have been different than any others for this very reason. And it’s incredibly exhausting. But I think, once I get past the caffeine crashes and clever people who are ruining my blog titles, it will be worth it.

“The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.”
– Psalm 116:5-7 (NIV)

Samantha Chaffin

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2 thoughts on “The secret to senior year

  1. deshipley says:

    Was gonna leave a comment so clever it would blow “last first day” out of the water, but let’s face it: I’m old and exhausted, too, and deliberate cleverness is out of my brain’s reach, at the moment. So I’ll just nod like, “Yeah. I hear you, sister,” and leave it at that.

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