Editor’s Column: Senior Citizen

When I first arrived at Colgate during the fall of 2008, my FSEM professor told us our Colgate experience would be like being in a doomed relationship. Our first year was like the honeymoon period where we seemed to like everything about Colgate and everything would seem new and exciting. However, by senior year, things would be so stressful we would feel ready to move on. “Talk to any senior,” he added. “They are some of the most stressed out people on this campus.” While I believe this metaphor has its merits, I defi­nitely do not feel ready to leave Colgate. Yet, at the same time, I also feel a little too old to be here. In high school, being a senior was what you looked forward to and gave you a certain status. Yet at Colgate, being a senior kind of feels like being the oldest kid at camp, or even worse, a senior citizen.

At first, I began to notice my age when it came to the little things. When I began work­ing for The Maroon-News my first year, I used to look forward to the many pieces of pizza I would enjoy during editing. Now I find myself packing food from Hamilton Whole Foods to avoid the heartburn I get from the combination of fried cheese and tomato sauce. I used to enjoy running into friends at parties or downtown, but now I seem to do most of my catching up with people when I see them at their thesis carrels. When I would finish my schoolwork for the day, I would hang out with friends, catch up on TV shows or go out to a party or downtown. Now I find myself thinking about all the work I have to do outside of class – applying for jobs, working on fellowship applications and all around trying to get my life in order. Sadly, I’m not alone. As I talk with my senior friends, it’s all too common to hear a friend complain about how she “can’t go out as much as I used to” or say with a bit of despair, “I totally would love to, but I really need to work on my thesis.” The other day, under the fluorescent library bathroom lights, I even noticed frown lines on my face.

People on the campus seem to treat you differently, too. The other night I was out with a few friends when a boy started talking to us and asked if we were freshmen. We laughed and told him we were seniors. With a sincere look of pity on his face, he then asked us if we had jobs for next year. Later that night when he asked me if I was going to Nichol’s with the rest of the group at the party, I said no. He asked if I was skipping out because I felt too old to be there. I told him I was late for Bingo and should be getting home. I’m not sure if he knew I was joking…

This whole situation seemed very scary. At 21, I am not ready to be a senior citizen. So, as I do in all times of crisis, I turned to my mentor Carrie Bradshaw and re-watched my favorite Sex and the City episode “Hot Child in the City.” In this episode, Samantha is hired to do the PR for a 13-year-old girl’s Bat Mitzvah party. As the women on the show interact with this precocious 13-year-old and her friends, they begin to feel a certain jeal­ousy of them and nostalgia for their own youths. But as the episode continues, we begin to see how despite the young girls’ designer clothes and very adult boy problems, they are deeply insecure.

Watching this episode, I began to realize that although senior year comes with its own set of challenges, I wouldn’t want to be a freshman girl again, despite their privileged posi­tion on campus. As a senior, spending four years at Colgate means that I have the privilege of recognizing most of the people I see on the quad. I get to take classes in subjects I am truly passionate about. Although I don’t go out as much, I really value the nights I do spend with my friends when we happen to all have time to go out together.

In high school psychology, I learned that all senior citizens face a dilemma as they look back on their life: integrity vs. despair. As Colgate seniors, I believe we face the same choice as well. We can despair about all the things we regret about our time at Colgate and panic about how our experiences are changing, or we can look back and realize how great each year here truly was and be grateful for what we learned. I plan on taking inspiration from my 92-year-old grandfather who never despairs and has even retained the great sense of humor he’s probably had since college. It may not be easy, but I am going to try to go into old age with no regrets, even if it means cutting back on the Slices and ranch.

Contact Katie David at [email protected].