People are going to tell you who you are your whole life. You’ve just got to punch back and say, ‘No, this is who I am.’
Emma, Once Upon A Time
I’ve decided to start each new post with a quote. And I don’t particularly care if they seem cliched or dumb or overdramatic and teen-angsty. It’s my blog and I quote whoever I want to. So there.
I recently realized that I kinda graduated from college without actually talking about it, specifically at least. I mentioned it here and there, but you’d think it would get a little more coverage than that.
That, ironically, is part of my point: why isn’t it a bigger deal? You move somewhere for 4 years with the express purpose of writing and presenting and learning your intellectual ass off, and then they hand you a piece of paper and a pat on the head and it’s just done? I’m sorry, I take serious issue with this.
My last week at Converse was pretty crazy. There was literally a different dinner to attend every night. I was in 3 honor societies, and the college has 2 dinners for seniors. And then family comes in. Add a final test and a paper or two and you’re booked solid.
It was actually a pretty fun week. I had one test to take (not a final, just a third test) in my favorite class, and a portfolio to wrap up for my non-fiction creative writing course, but for the most part it was my roommates and I trying to finish the 3rd season of Alias and slowly pack up our apartment into the boxes we had just unpacked three months before. There was a dinner for our version of the Phi Beta Kappa society, then a bbq at the President’s house and finally a Candlelight dinner at a country club with champagne, rubbery chicken and hairspray in the bathrooms – probably the most “Southern” experience of my three and a half years down there.
Fun. Perhaps even distracting, and that was probably the point. Let’s ignore that fact that the lives we’ve known for the past 4 years are about to go through a dramatic shift and go get some free drinks. It worked.
And then it was Saturday morning of May 14th, 2011. Hair was straightened, gowns were donned, and whining commenced about how terribly ugly those damn caps are. Seriously, who designed those and was like, YES. This is what all graduates everywhere for eternity will put on their heads. Because it doesn’t get any more celebratory than a square piece of styrofoam covered with cloth and a tassle that will always find its way back into your cornea.
As my grandmother would say, “a damn man must have invented this.”
So you walk onto a stage, shake the President’s hand, maybe even get some fancy award for committing yourself to spending quality time with your textbooks and word processor on most weekends. I, for one, got a shiny silver tray as my college’s version of valedictorian (we don’t call it that, but for all intents & purposes, that’s what it is). Actually, the award is in the name of my major advisor’s father, who was former Dean of the college, and it meant a lot to me to receive it.
^^My major advisor and me. I took every single one of his classes that I could. His Major British Writers I survey is the reason I was an English major. Case in point: I actually enjoyed Beowulf in his class. That should speak for itself.
It kind of pisses me off that you spend a legitimate chunk of your young life working towards one thing, and you get to make a big deal out of it for, um, one day. I feel like I woke up the next day and someone shook my hand and said, “Good job, you just spent several tens of thousands of dollars and four years working for a piece of paper. Now shut up and get a real life.” I’m not really sure what else I expected, but it was more than this. And I’m not one to have high expectations.
I know that I feel this way because of the choices I made. I know that my plan was not to go to graduate school, but to work – and yes, for no pay was part of the plan – and wait half a year before continuing to the next step. What I did not know was how much it would screw with my psychological equilibrium. [<—Big words = another fabulously useless yield from said four years.]
I’m sure there are others out there in a similar situation. It’s probably statistically impossible to be otherwise. But I don’t know any of those people. My friends are all living independently and even if they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, they are paying rents and making friends and taking steps toward a future they want. I am at home, as dependent as it gets, with 3 unpaid jobs and the only thing that gets me through the week is my favorite TV show and the dog.
Look, I’m a realistic person. I didn’t expect it to be easy or fun in the least. But I didn’t think it was going to completely overhaul my entire psyche either. I’m not really reaching out for advice, or even sympathy. I am trying to articulate my very vague and confusing thoughts so I can work through them and come to some sort of definitive conclusion.
What prompted this particular post is that I know exactly what I’m feeling, and it’s not good. I have no energy to do work, and no interest in things I usually enjoy. I’m going through the motions, and I hate that.
But at the end of the day, I know if I went back, nothing would change. I still think everything happens for a reason. Though let me tell you, there better be a damn good reason for pushing myself through this. Damn good.
And as it happens, I think I have come to some sort of conclusion. I have to stop trying to figure out what I should do and just pick something, without worrying about how others will judge me for it.
But this post is long enough as it is. I’ll leave you to your Monday.