Regina Ekaputri, Senior Anchor Intern
When I do my Notre Dame introduction nowadays, it starts with “Hi, my name is Regina, and I’m a senior…” and before I continue describing which dorm, which major, and so on, I tend to have this tugging feeling. I’m a senior. One sentence filled with so many different feelings, and it often raises so many questions from both myself and the people I encounter. “What are you thinking about doing after Notre Dame?” After hearing that I’m from Indonesia, another question would follow, “Where do you see yourself after Notre Dame?”
To be honest, I don’t know. I, too, ask these same questions to myself. What am I doing after? Where am I going to be? I don’t know. I don’t know.
I think this struggle and anxiety about not knowing things is not just common among seniors, but also juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. I remember that when I was a freshman, I experienced some doubts on what I was going to major in, how I could fit in, and many other things. Going into sophomore year, I thought I was in a slightly better place where I knew what I was doing, after surviving freshman year and comfortably adjusting to Notre Dame life. But then it came to the point where I realized that—again—I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my college education. I changed my intended major and minors so many times, my parents and my friends from home couldn’t keep track. I was fine, though, cruising along and taking it one step at a time. Junior year then came, when I spent a semester abroad in the beautiful town of St. Andrews. My experience abroad was amazing, and I could talk for hours about my time in Scotland. However, another wave of anxiety came, as I was looking for a summer internship. It didn’t help that I knew some people who already knew what they were doing since the beginning of fall semester of junior year. The questions started rolling in: What do you want to do after graduation? What kind of internships do you want to do? It was a lot of worrying and stressing out, while also frantically applying for twenty different internships.
Then, I’m a senior. To quote some of my friends, “things are starting to get real.” That fear of uncertainties is coming back, but this time I feel that it’s so much more overwhelming. It doesn’t help that all of us here at Notre Dame are high-achieving and hardworking students and that most of us know that handful of people who already know what they want to do next. It’s hard to not compare ourselves with our peers, or not think about this “expectation” that we’re supposed to know what we’re going to do after graduation. I know, though, that I’m not the only one who’s feeling this way. I know that I should stop comparing myself with others.
How do I deal with this fear? Some days are much harder, much more frustrating. I would lie on my bed and think about this uncertainty, and I would lose an hour or two of what would’ve been a good night sleep. However, some days are slightly easier. I remind myself that even though I don’t know about my future, God does. I know that He has a great plan for each one of us, that He knows us so well from when we were in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). But even then, sometimes I still struggle with this. So God has a unique plan and calling for each one of us. But how do I know what it is? Sometimes I wish that I, too, would have some kind of divine revelation or miraculous vision like that of St. Paul or St. Francis, where God verbally communicates with them what they’re supposed to do. I would pray that God reveals what He wants me to do, so I could follow and do His will. But nope, I haven’t had any of those exciting and dramatic moments thus far in my life.
Recently, however, I was reminded that maybe the way I pray, by demanding to know God’s will, wasn’t the best. I was led to pray in a slightly different way—instead of demanding to God to tell me what He wants, I have been learning to pray that I am more open to God’s calling, that I am more aware to the little things I do, that I surrender my control, to let go, and let God lead my life and walk with me as I try to discover what it is I am called to do. I ask for the patience, the strength, the peace, and the joy to live every day in a way I could learn more about myself and be present with the people around me.
I also keep going back to this prayer by St Thomas Merton, that has also helped to give me some peace:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Even with this prayer as my go-to shield and armor in times of stress and anxiety, some days are still harder than others. But when the anxiety hits hard, I try to take a short break and just take a deep breath—to remember that hey, I am not alone in this. I may not know where I’m going, or what I’m going to do after graduation, but I want to trust that God will lead me by the right road, that He’ll always walk with me, and that He will make everything beautiful in His time.