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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Why I Chose My ‘Useless’ Major

In college I chose to double major in Media & Communication and Religion Studies. While I get enough crap about being a ‘comm’ major, and ‘having an easy work load’, ‘not having to try as hard’, or ‘taking the easy way out’ (none of which are true), my Religion Studies major tends to raise more eyebrows.

If you happen to study anthropology, philosophy, history, sociology, or basically anything in the humanities or social sciences, I am sure you have dealt with a similar issue I have: people asking why.

Why would you study that? What can you even do with that? Why didn’t you pick a more practical major? 

Recently I even had a friend from high school say, and I quote, “You trolled yourself. You were one of the smartest people in high school and you graduated a troll” because of the major(s) I chose.

Granted, being a jobless recent graduate, I took this criticism very personally. He was right- I didn’t choose a ‘practical major with a set career path’.

But why does that make my major useless? Does getting a high paying job immediately after college mean everything these days? Is that what shows my worth in life? Isn’t there anything else?

So why did I choose my useless major with an ambiguous future?

Because I like learning.

At my part-time job the other day a man asked what I studied in college, and after I told him, for possibly the first time ever, I did not get “…why?” but rather “So you’re an intellectual?”

Nothing felt as good as that compliment.

What majors such as philosophy and religion studies give to a person may not be a set path to a career, but they are not ‘useless’ majors that warrant a ‘why would you study that’?

Religion Studies may not give me specific technical skills to place on my resume, but it opens my mind, it allows me to think, to analyze, to compare, to understand.

 

Religion studies allowed me to think deeply about the historical, anthropological, philosophical, sociological, and psychological aspects of religious people, cultures, places, beliefs, beginnings, teachings, rituals, and understandings. I did not study religion to become a pastor or a rabbi; I studied it to gain a deeper, more well-rounded understanding of the world and how both explicit and implicit religious meanings has affected its history.

My major has forced me to think, read, and write critically. It has forced me to see things I would otherwise have looked past. It has forced me to learn. What more could I ask for out of an education? I mean, I have skills for my resume-I’m not skill-less, but I also have a mind, and an ability to think.

Further, set paths scare me. This world, my future is open. I can create and follow any path I choose. So if you were a finance major who wants to be a businessman and knows exactly what you need to do to become one- good for you! We need people like you in the world. But I never wanted a set path. I always wanted choice and opportunity. Therefore my majors were perfect for a person such as myself.

And guess what- the world might need you with your understanding of economics, and you with your medical doctorate, and you with your law degree, but the world also needs people like me with my Media & Communication and Religion Studies degrees.

So why did I choose my ‘useless’ major? Because I wanted to learn. I wanted to know. I wanted to think. I love knowledge. I love understanding. I love when my mind is opened and expanded. I love thinking critically. And I didn’t want a set path.

I don’t think that is a bad thing.

 

 

P.S. If anyone wants to give me a job, hit a sista up. I have a great personality.

 

What Not To Ask A College Senior

Here’s a tip to adults, children, high school students, underclassman, elders, basically anyone other than a college senior: The most ANNOYING question you can ask a senior in college is “What are you doing after graduation?”

Do you think we know that? Even if we do have plans, do you think we want to discuss life-after-college with you? Or even THINK about life after college?

Alright, I’m generalizing a bit right now because there are those lucky fellas majoring in finance or something who have had job offers since they were freshmen, and those who somehow have the biggest savings account in the world despite attending a $50k/year private university and are back-packing Asia for a TBA amount of time after graduation, but as for a good portion of us: WE.DO.NOT.KNOW.WHAT.WE.ARE.DOING.COME.MAY.

I realized how much this question bothered me personally today when my neighbor came into my house as I was sitting in my pajama pants at about 1 PM and trolling the interwebz and began asking me questions about post-grad.

*Smiling politely* “I’m not sure yet.”

Neighbor: “What do you mean you’re not sure….? What are you going to do? What can you do?”

Sir, I don’t know what about the phrase “I’m not sure yet” you did not comprehend, but I am not sure yet. I do not know. I have no idea. Is that clear?

Apparently not, because this conversation proceeded the same way for about 5-10 more minutes until I progressively got more aggressive with my answers “I DON’T KNOW!” and my dad chimed in “How about this new moulding on the wall…?” directing the subject away from my pathetic lack of future plans towards our lovely living room decor.

Thanks Dad. Always there to save the day.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy thinking about or even discussing the future, but my future is wide open right now. I am focusing on deadlines for volunteer programs, job searching, internships, places to live, etc in my free time alone.

It seems as though many of my classmates are doing the same over this winter break.

Every time I talk to a fellow-senior, they are in the middle of applying to graduate school, or finishing up a resume, or writing a personal statement for a volunteer program. And the phrase “the uncertainty of my future” comes up almost daily in conversation with them.

We are all uncertain. We are all young. We are in our early twenties. Why do we need to know what what we are doing after graduation? Why do we need to know where we will be a year from now?

We don’t. And we won’t. We are still figuring ourselves out. We are still mid-applications and mid-deadlines and mid-confused.

Let us be. Let us figure ourselves out. Let us be overwhelmed with our possibilities. Why is there so much pressure on us that we need to know who we are supposed to be as a post-grad?

If you are asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” to be nice or out of general interest: that’s fine. But when we say “I’m not sure yet”, let it go. Let us explore and let us figure it out. Give us advice, sure. But don’t be disappointed with our acceptance of the fact that the future is wide open to us.

And for the love of God do not, NOT relentlessly ask us over and over again expecting a different answer. (That’s a sign of insanity according to Einstein. So who’s the unstable one now!?)

But be aware that by asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” you are forcing us to live in the future. It’s my last semester in college. I’ll figure it all out on my own time within this semester, but for now, I’m going to focus on living it up these last few months of freedom I have left. When I’m not physically working on those deadlines and applications, I’d prefer to not have to think or talk about them. I’d rather think or talk about that upcoming concert or the wonderful friends I’ve spent the last four years of college with.

So if I, or any other college senior politely responds “I’m not sure yet”, take a hint that we don’t want to discuss post-graduation plans with you. Not now, not until we have it figured out.