College Graduation: The Saddest of All the Milestones

College graduation is the saddest of all the milestones.

Well, okay. It’s really exciting. I mean here I am, thrust into the so-called ‘real world’, ready to make money, live on my own, travel, learn new responsibilities, find a husband (lol just kidding on the husband-part) and be an ‘adult’. And will I soon move out of my parents’ house, find a salary job, and go create my own life? Let’s hope so… But that’s a post for another time.

Today I want to focus on graduation (mostly because I’ve refused to focus on the dirty g-word all semester).

As the day of doom approached, I felt cool, calm, and collected. I was frequenting the bar, spending time and money with friends, and all around enjoying the last of my college days.

What sucked though…is that I didn’t (and arguably still don’t) realize that my college days were soon to be over. Sure I knew in the back of my head. Why else would I go out on a Tuesday night or try to explore the entire city where my college was located in the last few weeks that I’ve neglected to explore in the entire four years in which I lived there?

Subconsciously I was freaking out.

I was spending money I barely had (my bad bank account). I wasn’t sleeping well for literally weeks on end (zombie status). I was eating my feelings  (just in time for bikini-season). I was trying to reconnect with people that I barely knew (and will definitely never see again).

I was sucking in all that is the “college-experience”.

And as the day got closer, I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t nervous, and I wasn’t anxious. I was secure in the fact that I was graduating and ready to move on. I needed a new space, a new time, a new face. I was sick of the same people, the same town, the same classes. I wanted to make money, find my passion, grow. I was ready.

And then the weekend came.

The candlelight baccalaureate service on our college’s front lawn was beautiful. That’s when it first started to hit me. Tears silently filled my eyes as I struggled not to scream, sob, freak out. As soon as the seniors in various a cappella groups from campus began to sing the Irish Blessing “May The Road Rise Up To Meet You“, I lost it. Not only was this indicative of my college career ending and beginning a new chapter of my life, but OF COURSE the country I happened to study abroad in was Ireland.

Like, really? It HAD to be that song? 

Memories flooded my brain. Images of the friends, mistakes, blessings, anger, happiness, parties, and education I had at college slid across my mind like a slideshow.

Fast forward to later that night, in the local bar that I happen to love with a few of my best friends, enjoying the last beer we’d have there for awhile. We chatted a bit about graduation and how weird it was, but it felt like an ordinary night at that bar. Not the eve of our college graduation…

I don’t think I slept for more than 3 hours that night. I woke up late, as per usual, took a fast shower, attempted to apply make-up and put on my best fake smile.

This was it. This was the day that I had been working towards not only for the past four years of my life, but for the past 22. I was graduating college. 

Black circles under my eyes from many sleepless nights were only appropriate for my graduation day, as they were the symbol of my college life; whether I lost sleep due to staying up late finishing a paper and studying, or partying well into the early hours of the morning.

The ceremony was a blur. I try to remember, but only 3 weeks later and I hardly can. All I remember is that gut-wrenching feeling, and yet at the same time the avoidance of the fact that this could be the last time I sat in that school’s gym.

On graduation day, I barely saw any of my close friends from college. After the ceremony, I had a nice brunch with my family, packed up out of my college house, and began the hour drive home alone.

Um, thank God it was only an hour. The SECOND I fastened my seat belt, the tears came. And I am not talking some silent-cry like I’ve quietly done in my adult-life whenever I’ve come across a bad situation. I’m talking a SOB. A loud, painful-sounding, gasping-for-air sob.

That sob lasted the entire way home.  This is when it hit me. The last four years went by so fast. Freshman year felt like yesterday. I have met some of the best, crazy, smart, interesting people in the world. I had new experiences, new places, and new situations under my belt. And now it was all over. 

I remember feeling like I was going through a break-up, like Muhlenberg College dumped me and kicked me to the curb. I felt heart-broken.

And before this depressing-self-rant goes too far, I will leave you with this advice:

1. Don’t work at a card/gift store directly post graduation. It will only depress you to see people shopping for high school grad gifts, and make you think “UGH THEY’RE SO LUCKY, THEY STILL HAVE ALL OF COLLEGE.”

2. If you have to work at a card/gift store post graduation, go read through all of the inspirational sayings on cards and gifts…You might just come across this:

“You can’t move on to the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”

3. The next chapter can (and probably will) be better than the last. College was great; it gave you perspective, experiences, and friends. You don’t have to let these things go, in fact, take these with you as you move on to the next chapter.

I truly believe, when given the chance, the ‘real-world’ can be just as fun and rewarding as the college experience was.

And I’m excited to find out just how great it can be!

(But really, this is how I feel about graduating)

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