By Rebecca Kerzner
The past two weeks were filled with one thing for me: the stress of an impending future. While others may have been jet setting to fancy locations and going on relaxing trips, I sat at home in my room in Houston, Texas 🌵 and worked on perfecting my online design portfolio and the burden of my uncertain future weighed on me. Frankly, this is an anxiety that I’ve felt rising to a crescendo within me throughout the whole year. It’s like a little humming within me that’s always there and just hits me at random moments. But now that winter break is over, and I am facing my very last semester on campus, the feeling is intensified. The future nears closer than ever before.
I’m someone who enjoys a little bit of nostalgia here and there and thinking about being a senior at Stern has me reminiscing on the high school days when everything seemed easy. Slacking off had no consequences, nor did paying attention in class, nor did arriving late. My fondest memories from that time are of pigging out on cookie cakes, binging on netflix, and having actual free time to draw for pleasure. I smile as I look back on these moments because during that time, I know I didn’t see my life as an easy piece of cake, the way I do now. The full picture comes into focus. I remember complaining with friends about how crazy and irrational our teachers were, obsessing over the perfect outfit for Shabbatons, and dying to have freedom from strict parents. These were tough times indeed, even though now they seem way more laughable. But looking through a nostalgic lens doesn’t convey an accurate picture. When we look back, we gloss over the stress and only see what was good and fun and happy and because of this my nostalgic lens compels me to see that time in my life as way easier than now.
But compared to the “struggles” I faced upon graduating 🎓 high school, I find the end of college to be more daunting and frightening. I believe it is an isolating experience too because all of my peers and I futures look very different. Unlike high school, where we were forced to study all the same topics and turn the same projects in, here we all study different subjects so all our career paths differ from each other greatly. While one friend stares with a pained expression as she looks at the large daunting stack of MCAT books on her desk, another is considering how to spend their gap year, and yet another is facing the job market and networks like there’s no tomorrow. Nobody can tell a friend exactly what he or she should do, and this contributes to my stress, because I know this isn’t exactly a situation where I can go to friends for sympathy because they can’t understand what I’m going through.
After reflecting on my high school days, and recognizing the double-sided nature of my nostalgic ways, I’m hoping to view this semester differently. I’m hoping to cherish the things that are good in the now as best as I can and also pay attention to the things my post grad friends say they miss so much about college. However, this doesn’t fully take away from all the stresses I will endure and the emotional breakdowns 😳 I will have to work through and I cannot escape the fact that there will be many difficult decisions to make. But I hope that through this lens of nostalgia that I previously explored, I recognize that I will get through this time like I did back then, and I will probably look back with the same tone of amusement, because that’s just how nostalgia works.
Usually, I like to try to employ a positive spin to my articles and find a brighter ☀️ way of dealing with difficult matters. But when it comes this angst that I feel on my future, I find it difficult to easily untie these stress knots and confusion and turn them into a beautiful bow with some platitudes. If I had a platitude I could use to help how I feel, I would. But in the case of this burden I feel, I recognize that the easiest way I can deal with it is simply by taking it day. This is no quick fix situation. Sometimes in life we fall into those situations that entail a lot more emotional processing and self care to deal with them. This is a struggle for me that’s will eb and flow and sometimes there may just be bad days, where I feel confused and anxious all day. I know that I will try to remember all the things I should miss, (the 7 minute walk from Brookdale to 245, 34th Street shopping, and living in Midtown Manhattan) but that I will still nevertheless feel just as hopeless for my future.
In the meantime, I will try to embrace everything that is in store for my and my peers futures. The journey to get there will be a mixture of both bitter and sweet moments but I am comforted knowing that this isn’t a unique experience and that others have also gone through it and they came out completely fine! We all exist in the tale that is human experience and part of being human is feeling all emotions, both good and bad. The sooner we recognize this, and the faster I allow myself to acknowledge this when the bad times come, the easier it will be to deal with these mixed feelings. I always want to share the best version of myself to everyone around me and channel a light and warmth onto others, but because of this, I’ve placed an unfortunate pressure on myself to always channel Mrs. positivity. But my positive side is just it. A side. And I’m made up both the good and bad, because I am a feeling breathing living human being.