During the first night of orientation at my college everyone gathers on the quad and we hold an event called "1355 Nights," marking the number of nights we have before graduation. Now, as a senior, we recently held "100 Nights" counting down the nights we have left before we leave. They unfold a banner with a countdown on it, and every day since the numbers have been getting smaller and smaller. We're now in the 80s and many people are feeling a sense of nervousness about graduation.
Where are we headed? What jobs am I going to apply for? Do I have to move home? Will I get into graduate school? As seniors in college, we ask ourselves these things a lot. We're always worried about where we're going, what's coming next, and how little time we have left before we have to become "real adults". The concern over how many days we have can sometimes leave the important things behind.
For example, the other 1200 nights we've already gone through. If you're a college senior, I'm betting that in the last three and a half years you've made some friends you enjoy spending time with. You've probably developed hobbies or areas of interest that fly on and off your radar between class assignments. You may not remember every detail of college, since not many people remember every day of their lives. But, there are some things you can start doing in your last 100 days as a college student that might remind you -- or at least put aside that stress about the "real" world.
Don't forget your friends. They've gotten you this far, and as busy as you are with senior classes, internships, and grad-school applications, it's important to make time for them. Not only for their sake, but for yours. You've got 100 more nights of movie marathons, sitting on the too-small-for-all-of-us couch eating snacks and pointing out which characters are most like yourselves. There are 100 more late night talks you can have about plans, or people, or anything really. One hundred more chances to make a mess out of your small kitchen in an attempt to cook a nice meal on a college budget. Take some of those 100 and plan a few day trips so you all have to pile in a car with a disjointed playlist and not enough leg room. Making time for your friends grounds you in the now, gives you a break from stress, and acts as a reminder of why college was so great in the first place.
Remember those hobbies you have? Sometimes they get lost in the rush between internships, teaching assistantships, and of course, your work load, that part-time job, and your few attempts to look for post-grad work. When you have a thousand "more important things" circling you, it's hard to find time for your hobbies. But do it when you can. Maybe you have a canvas waiting to be painted, tucked behind your bookcase. There's that short story you left hanging on page two, right before the action happens. You have 100 days, 2400 hours, somewhere you can put aside several to practice dancing, or bake some cookies, or go for a run -- all the things that get pushed aside in the mad dash towards graduation.
Finally, as you move towards graduation, try to realize that you have 100 days left to build some purposeful relationships. With your friends that will last after college, and with your professors or supervisors. Now, this may sound like post-grad-prep, but in actuality, taking the time to get to know the people you work for and look up to is fulfilling. Not only because it helps you learn how to form professional bonds, but because you will learn unexpected things about them. Maybe one of your professors used to be a professional skateboarder, and another has written several books on Henry David Thoreau. You've got 100 days to learn about that poetry lecturer who dedicated so much time to helping edit your work over the years. In addition, they have 100 more days to get to know you. You can tell them about the grant you're writing, or the work you're doing with the math department. Maybe mention how you're blogging for online publications, or getting opinion pieces published in the local paper. Having 100 days left gives you perspective on the people you look up to. They went through this journey into adulthood once too, and building relationships with them will help calm some of the nerves around the future.
You've spent the last 1255 nights looking towards graduation. Now that it's less than 100 days away, the impulse to worry can be pretty strong. But remember that a 100-day countdown isn't always a bad thing. If you make it as positive as you can and make time for the truly important things, you'll find that 100 days to graduation is a lot of time to make some great things happen.