It’s a bizarre feeling to be completely done with college.
It actually took me a bit longer than my fellow graduates, because I had to fix all the citations in my senior seminar paper before I turned it in, and they were a shambles. I just hit the send button on the email containing it, however, and now it is completely, 100% official- I am done with school FOREVER.
I wrote that sentence with the aim of sounding dramatic, but honestly it doesn’t to me. That’s because it seems surreal. Truthfully that’s how much of last week seemed to me. I was doing all these things that you do in your last week of school, but it just seemed like it was all fake. I was going through the motions that someone was telling me to go through. It didn’t feel significant; I didn’t even cry at all the day of graduation. My mind just feels like, Yes, summer! See you next semester, college! And I want to say to it MIND YOU ARE WRONG IT IS OVER. But apparently, I have done school so long that my mind just can’t comprehend not doing it. So here I am, a college graduate, resembling a rudderless boat cast adrift in the stormy seas of life.
But let me go back a little, and share my week leading up to graduation.
Finals week was surprisingly easier than I expected. The way my school does it, the last week of school consists of regular class on Monday and Tuesday, and then finals are on Wednesday through Friday, just depending on what classes you have. But for various reasons, my three finals were on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I was done early in the week. That just left me with the monster paper. I planned to spend all Wednesday night working on it, but then Oklahoma weather stepped in and we almost got smashed by a tornado in my college town. My sister and I chose to evacuate home to our parents, and I’m glad we did because my school lost power for the night. I was able to get a little bit of work done, but not as much as I would’ve liked to because we were busy being concerned over whether my car (still at college since I rode home with my sister) was going to be pummeled by hail or sucked into a twister, along with the majority of my possessions. Luckily no tornado was forthcoming, at least near my college, and my things remained unscathed. That was an enlivening way to spend a day in finals week, friends.
The next day was by far the most difficult. Thursday was my last day at the daycare I’ve worked at for the past three years. I basically grew up and matured there, and some of those kids I’ve seen grow up as well. One of my absolute favorite kids was barely one when I started working there, and now she’s a rambunctious four year old. It’s hard to believe how much has changed within me and within my life because of that job. I had a party with the class I’ve been working with this semester, the older school age kids. We enjoyed some delicious ice cream and partied it up with paint. When the day was over, and I’d cleaned and closed down my room for the last time, I stood in the dark for a few minutes and just cried. Then I got myself together and said my goodbyes.
Thursday night was crunch time. I graduated the next day, and that meant my paper needed to be finished. I went to the library for the last time, and stayed there until they kicked me out at 2am. Then I went back to my apartment, sat down at my living room table, and I wrote the rest of my paper. I finished at around 6:15 in the morning, with a grand total of 33 pages. I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know now if those were quality pages of writing or not. My brain simply said, That’s enough. And I said, Yes, brain, whatever you say. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired before that I actually felt drunk, but when I got in the shower at 6:30, and I closed my eyes to tip my head back into the water, I started falling backwards and had to grab the wall of the shower. I literally could not keep myself upright without the structural assistance of my shower. My legs were like jelly after not moving for four hours, and I had to sit down a few times. It was a bit rough. Sadly, by the time I laid down, I was so tired that I had trouble sleeping. I snatched fiveish hours of poor quality sleep before I had to get up, and get going. I was running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done before I drove home to get ready for graduation. After that, everything started moving in fast forward. We met some of my friends and family for dinner back in my college town, but it seemed like a split second before it was time for me to get to the school so we could take pictures before graduation. Putting on my robe and cords and sashes just seemed bizarre, like I was dressing up for a part in a play. My fellow graduates and I ended up loitering around in a hallway waiting for our pictures to be taken, and I got to see a bunch of my friends. Some of them were people I had gone to school with all four years; some were new friends. But all of them seemed a part of some dream. My school does two graduations for the different types of Bachelor’s degrees, so sadly a number of my friends graduated at 6 and I didn’t get to see them, including my roommate and best friend, Tiffany. I remember thinking, gosh, I’m probably never going to see them ever again, but I just couldn’t get upset because it seemed impossible. It still does.
Actual graduation itself was strange. It was in our tiny auditorium, since we didn’t even have enough graduates to fill up the front four rows of it. Our president talked forever, and honestly, I didn’t even really listen. My sister said it was mostly about how getting a Bachelor of Arts degree was dumb, so I guess I didn’t miss out. The graduate next to me in alphabetical order was Paige Simpson, and I think the best part of graduation for us was counting how many professors fell asleep during our president’s speech. You see, all the faculty was on the stage, which we were facing, and we basically were staring at them throughout the ceremony. And lord, they were dropping like flies, and it was truly one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen. At one point I had to demand Paige stop talking because I was on the verge of exploding with laughter in the midst of our graduation because of her comments about the sleepers. A number of professors rubbed the bridge of their noses during the ceremony, the way one does when pushed nearly past all bearing by some sort of mind-numbingly unpleasant situation. One of my favorite professors looked as though his brain was simply melting out of his mouth, which was slightly agape, matching the expression of utter boredom on his face. So to the professors of my college, I salute you. You made graduation intensely more entertaining that it probably otherwise would’ve been.
When it actually came time to walk, I was in the second row. We stood up, moved to the steps to the stage, and then it was literally over almost before it happened. I handed the vice-president the card, he announced my name and that I was graduating Summa Cum Laude, I heard a roar of people cheering for me, made sure I didn’t trip or walk too fast, smiled until my cheeks hurt, and then I sat back down. And just like that, I was graduated. It was bizarre, especially compared to my high school graduation, which had between 550 and 600 graduates and took around three hours. The rest of graduation was pretty standard; they told us we were no longer students but graduates, and everyone cheered. Then, a really cool part, they announced the Outstanding Graduates from each division, and mine was first. The faculty had to all exit the auditorium before we could, so we were all smiling at them as they went down the middle aisle. I was in the second seat, and so I was really close to them when they went by. One of the highlights of my graduation was when one of my English professors, Dr. Rees (who is the unanimously acknowledged badass of the English department), saw me, and then leaned over seats and past Paige to give me a hug. She said something encouraging but I basically didn’t hear it because I was so overwhelmed with how awesome it was that she was hugging me. Then my senior seminar professor, Dr. Simpson, who is pretty much the coolest dude around and was right behind Dr. Rees, saw me and said “You better just stay there” and I got another hug.
Almost before I knew it, we were walking out. I looked for my family everywhere but never saw them in the auditorium; I met them outside. A confusing whirlwind of pictures and hugging ensued. I had so many friends and so much of my family come out to my graduation, it was simply amazing. I felt so loved and blessed from all their support and the wonderful gifts they got me. We went to a reception, and I got a hug and chatted with one of my other English professors, Dr. Rodgers. She told me that I had to call her and Dr. Rees by their first names. I told her that I could not do it. Then I ate cookies, took some more pictures, and it was over.
Just like that. Seventeen years of my life. The main purpose I strove for during the majority of my time on this planet, and suddenly, it was accomplished. Done with. I graduated college.
I guess I never realized just how much school has dominated my life. In school, I always worked hard to get good grades so I could get a scholarship to college. I feel like I’ve often been defined by school, because I was typically one of the kids who made better grades consistently, and people tend to catch on and classify you by that. Any time we had to fill out things or do writing assignments where we talked about where we saw ourselves in the future, my answer was always, without fail, getting a scholarship to go to college. It was weird enough when I actually accomplished that, but it was lost when I thought of the years of college I had to actually get through. But now they’re gotten through.
I know graduating college is a relatively common experience. I know maybe it seems like I’m making a really, really big deal out of it. But Saturday, I had to move out of my apartment for the last time. We rushed frantically to get everything packed up and loaded by our 2pm checkout deadline. My car was stuffed; my dad had brought home a bunch of stuff earlier in the week, and my mom’s car even had a pretty large load of stuff in it. All the accumulation of four years of college, kicked out of my apartment and stuffed into three cars. The reason that this feels like such a big deal to me, I guess, is because I feel exactly like my stuff. There’s no place for me anymore at school, and now there’s all this stuff that needs a place back at my house that we’re going to have to try to find. I need a place, too, and I’m really feeling the fact that I don’t fit anymore where I’ve always fit. I’m especially scared by the fact that I have to try and find a new place to fit. I spent most of last night scouring the internet for jobs, and I came up with NOTHING. Nothing that sounds even remotely palatable to me. I simply feel lost. One of the aspects about the institution of school that I never appreciated was that it gives you something to do. It gives you a clear, predetermined next step. I’m beginning to completely understand why some people just decide to go to graduate school- it’s like a bonus level, like Super Mario Brothers when you go down the little pipe and you just run around punching things and getting coins (from what I’ve heard, this is a similar experience to graduate school, except you spend your coins just as fast as you get them). But I’ve always known that graduate school was not my cup of tea. I recognize that it’s time to do something else with my life, the problem just is that I don’t know what.
So this leads me to a very important question… would anyone be interested in paying me to sit at home and blog?
Stin iyia sas,
PS I used the Greek phrase for cheers, because as of now, my future is all Greek to me. Also, I wrote a post over my graduation outfit over on my bargain fashion blog, so please check that out if you’d like. Now I am going to spam you with pictures of my graduation. Enjoy: