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It's fourth year...and I'm freaking out

By Natalie Irwin

I’m going to use the cliche “time flies when you’re having fun,” because as a fourth-year student, I can assure you that it’s true. It feels like just yesterday I was a confused first-year entering a new city and looking for a spot to sit at Ignite that wasn’t too close to anyone else. But here I am - a fourth-year student with the reality of - well, reality - creeping towards me. What am I going to do after graduation? How do you “adult?” Who in their right mind would employ someone as lost as me?

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I’ve seen friends in their fourth year of university have these similar stresses. The unknown can be terrifying, and as someone who has never liked change, it’s the cause of so many of my major concerns. I often ask myself how I will ever find a job if I don’t have years of experience, a never-ending list of talents, or a certainty in what I want to “be when I grow up.”

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These concerns are not new to me though. When I graduated grade eight, I hated the thought of high school. I was comfortable where I was. I had friends, I did well in school, I found my hobbies and I stuck to them. The thought of all that changing caused me so much stress. I sat up at night playing every bad situation that could possibly happen on my first day of grade nine. I assumed people wouldn’t like me, or even care to know my name.

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Looking back, I was definitely wrong about high school; I found new parts of myself there again, and grew so much. Yet again, I became comfortable where I was. I continued to do well in school, had a lot of friends with a variety of interests, became involved, and continued to learn more about myself, my hobbies, and my goals. My fears of change seemed to drift away, until I had to move away for university.

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Just as they had when I graduated grade eight at thirteen-years-old, my worries and fears of change came rushing back when I was seventeen and leaving for school. All of my high school friends were going to different schools, so I figured I would lose my connection with them. I thought as soon as I came to university, I would have no similar interests with other people, and no one would know my name.

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Surprise, surprise; I was wrong. When I came to university, I made some of the closest and most incredible friends I have ever had. Sure, I lost connections with some of my high school friends, but I also maintained the relationships that mattered most to me. I found even more of what I love and who I am in university and developed skills I never knew I was capable of.

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But, here I am again; change is around the corner, and this time it feels bigger than ever before. I won’t claim to be an expert on getting past these moments of fear in response to change, but I can say this: I have never experienced change that didn’t lead to growth. So, my response to being a fourth-year student with the fears of growing up and finding a job on my mind is to remain calm, and actually try being excited for what’s to come. Considering every change I’ve ever experienced, I always come out on top, better than I was before. It has always been challenging, but never impossible.

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So, if you’re in your last year of university and are fearing the unknown, consider the most challenging and terrifying changes you have faced. Would you look at that! You’re still here, and I would almost guarantee that you have grown from these challenges. Take a deep breath and listen to “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. You’ll be okay.