The Senior Scaries

OCA Managing Editor Stephanie Bailey explains the symptoms of Senior Scaries and possible cures as the Class of 2018 enters their final month.

If you are a senior right now and are feeling like more of a hideous mess than usual you may be suffering from The Senior Scaries. It’s a condition prompted by panic. The switching up of your life as you know it. Whatever you have lined up after graduation – a job, grad school, nothing, something, an ambitious plan to launch your own brewery of craft ciders, – it doesn’t matter, because things are changing. You probably had your last cappuccino at the 2F cafe and you didn’t even know it. Think about that. Who even knows what the coffee situation is where you’re going. Nervous? Excited? Terrified? Panic Taobao-ing a portable espresso machine? Yeah, it’s looking a little scary. But, if you exhibit any of the following behaviours you may be suffering from The Senior Scaries.


Exaggerated Avoidance Tactics

Chances are you are mid-way through your final semester and unless you are terribly organised and finished all your requirements early (if you are, fuck you) you’ll have a pretty long list of deadlines going on. This may involve a capstone, a class you need to finish your major or multiple classes you’re taking to get the minor you decided you needed last minute. The point is your calendar is intense and so you must avoid any behaviour that is productive. This is a true symptom of The Scaries when you step up from elementary procrastination like Netflix and memes and really take it to the next level. I’m talking things like turning yourself into a WeChat sticker. Making a sticker set to include that sticker. Sending the sticker to everyone in your WeChat contact list. Realising you sent a sticker of your face to someone you were attempting to avoid permanently. Ruminating on being a social disaster. If you’re really successful these actions can take up at least three days. Have an imminent deadline? Doesn’t matter. You make your own deadlines now.


Acute Lusting

This is an avoidance tactic so avoid-y it has it requires its own category. Behaviours can range anywhere from library lusting to Instagram creeping to turned up tindering. The trick is to just make your newfound romantic endeavours as time-consuming as possible. It’s a distraction method as old as humanity. Because who has time for pointless dribble like your capstone methods section when you’re questioning things like does he like me? Do I like her? Should I order gin on a first date? Does “wanna hang out” at 3 AM mean “I want to fuck you”? (Yes). Am I going to be alone forever? (Maybe). Can a misspelling of psychopath dry up my sexual organs permanently? How do I find a significant other in Shanghai who is not weirdly into cats? How do I question my significant other to find out if they are weirdly into cats? Love (and lust) is a battlefield and it requires excessive pondering and various experiments in the field.


Displays of Aggressive Comfort

Ok, so, you may be distracting yourself from the harsh truths of reality, but NYU Shanghai is still your domain. You are a veteran of this place. You’ve been through various sagas. Ninemasters. Chartwells. The dorms. You’ve lived. And, you’ve picked up different strategies along the way. The precise time you should visit the vending machines so the American classic flavour is at the front. The number of papers you have to ‘leave’ on a table to claim a seat in the library. How to attend an event just for the food and leave within five minutes of troughing down said food. Will you ever be this comfortable again? Who knows. So, show off your powers now. These pathetic underclassmen don’t know shit. Subtly judge them as you glide past in the Yeezys you bought for 70 RMB. Yeah, that’s right, 70, suckers.


Extreme Seeking of Adrenaline

The thing is procrastination and being brilliant at WeChat Pay will only get you so far. There’s a point where you might start thinking about the future, and there’s a huge gaping unknown in the distance. That’s ok, you don’t have to think about that nonsense if you are driving really fast or climbing up a roof. If it’s vaguely death-defying, why not? Then get a tattoo.


Engaging in Existential Crises

The thing about human existence is that there is always Monday morning. As much as you try to avoid the notion of time itself, you’ll wake up when you’re hungry. Possibly with quite a gnarly bruise on your knee from the adrenaline stage and the beer-fuelled notion that you are the female Lewis Hamilton of go-karting. So, stop thinking about your life and think about life. What does it mean? Why are we here? Are we really here? Is NYU Shanghai even viable in a totalitarian state? Why isn’t there a political or economic system free from oppression? Is socialism completely utopian? Is capitalism always toxic? What would Marx do if he drunk-text his hook-up about ideological mindfuckery? Behaviours to watch out for are re-reading The Communist Manifesto for fun, writing existential poetry about the treachery of the human condition, and thought spirals that end with nihilism. Bonus points if this occurs at 3 AM or 2 PM. Philosophy knows not of convenience.


Panic Excursion-ing

Hopefully, you can emerge from your dabbles with existentialism something more than a shell of your former self. Look up from your black coffee and turn to your surroundings. Notice that you yet to even experience most of your surroundings. Your time in Shanghai is about to end and you haven’t even visited the bar that serves fire cocktails or the urban planning museum. You might make a list, then a schedule, and then prioritise these trips above everything else. When people hear you went to university in Shanghai are they going to ask you about your thoughts on the 2011 paper “Demystifying the Chinese Economy” or are they going to want to hear about how you demystified dumplings and Didi.


Complete Letharthia

This is also known as the denial stage. It can comprise of lying in bed, lying on the floor, lying on the second-floor couches, and/or stepping out of the academic building and staring into the distance. It’s a lot less effort than previous behaviours so typically appears at the end of binging on a few of the above. But, for the same reason, it also inevitably leads to the above. If you are doing nothing, you could be thinking. You could be thinking about the future. You could be applying for things. You could be boosting your resume. You could be building a personal brand. No. And hello, Senior Scaries.

Figure 1: An Insight into the Brain of a Senior Scaries Sufferer


So, you are probably thinking wow, the writer of this is so wise, and you’re right. But, you may also be thinking, I have an extreme case of The Senior Scaries. I’m avoiding, lusting, judging, adrenaline-ing, in crisis, and excursion-ing, whilst simultaneously doing nothing. What’s the cure? Is there a cure? Or do I just slide into a pit of incompetence?


Don’t worry, the prognosis is good. You have made it this far. New York University is 27 on The World University Rankings, which is pretty decent indeed. And, you made it through the majority of this global experiment so you are clearly resilient and resourceful. If you weren’t scared, you’d be crazy. This time feels like a weird limbo at its best and a crushing stress-fest at its worst. Actions are distractions. But, graduation will come around and all this will pale into significance.


Just do yourself a favour and write your blooming thesis.

This article was written by Stephanie Bailey. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Bailey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *