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MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA

Full disclosure: we cried on Jan. 7. We cried in part because we cry fairly often and were overdue, but mostly because we know that Wednesday, Jan. 7 was our last first day of class. The ritual established for us in August of 1998 has now come to an end.

Of course, the last first day of classes is just one of many “lasts” that we, along with the rest of the Class of 2015, experience during our march to the finish line. The inevitable tears shed are a symptom of the sorrow and mild terror that we — and that we suspect many seniors — have felt for the entirety of this academic year.

These feelings are anything but new or unique. The fears of graduating seniors are as old as the university itself, and frankly, it has become cliche to talk about the anxieties that come with graduation. The thing about fear and anxiety, though, is that this knowledge does not make them go away — even the knowledge that you are going through a rite of passage that so many others have breached does not make it any easier, dear underclassmen. It still feels like jumping off a great cliff.

On May 16, the Class of 2015 will lose their jobs. Yes, we are all going to be briefly unemployed until the lucky ones (or the unlucky ones?) start up their fancy gigs at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs. Unless we immediately continue on to law school, medical school or another graduate program, we are going to lose the only profession we have ever had; and with that a major part of our identities — that of being a student. No matter where we go, we will lose the distinction of being undergraduates at Georgetown.

One of the most important lessons that Georgetown has taught us, though, is to embrace this disconcerting truth. It has taught us to find comfort in the uncomfortable, how to “sit-in” our struggles. We are not to ignore the melancholy, nostalgia or even great anxiety and depression that this trial brings, but to face these emotions head-on.

Facing situations that produce those feelings allows for a slow building of growth. Little by little those anxiety-filled trials produce something invaluable — a subtle and quiet confidence that lies at the heart of uncertainty. While we are both freaking out because our postgraduate lives feel exceptionally uncertain, we still maintain an underlying sense of calm that brings us back to sanity.

And while we will not be at Georgetown, we know that we will land somewhere and will learn to adapt to that discomfort just like we learned to adapt to previous challenges and trials. We have done this before and we can do it again. We both have gone through the ringer at Georgetown, mentally, emotionally, academically and spiritually and we are both still standing.

The Class of 2015 is approaching the edge of a cliff called graduation, but all of us approach innumerable cliffs in our lives and especially during our time at Georgetown (if you have not yet approached your cliffside, don’t you worry, it’s coming). From our individual and collective experiences we have learned that we need to embrace this cliff, pitch a tent and camp out for a while (feel all of the feels) because when it comes to cliffs, the truth is that they are important to learn how to face.

At Georgetown, we are asked to face many cliffs. We are put in those uncomfortable situations, sometimes from the moment we step foot on campus. However, after we graduate, we must choose to put ourselves on the edge of a cliff — choose to go for the promotion, to apply to the fellowship, to form new committed relationships, to stretch ourselves in unfamiliar ways. What’s more, we will only voluntarily place ourselves on these ledges because we have that quiet inner confidence built up from past trials.

Our educational experiences challenge us and prime us for future endeavors, but these challenges are ones we must choose to engage. And each time we do engage, each time we lean out on a cliff’s edge fully and courageously, and acknowledge the humanity of our emotions, it becomes that much easier to jump.

 

Kendall and CamilleKendall Ciesemier and Camille Squires are seniors in the College.

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