Yesterday was graduation day for many of my very close friends.
And as they walked down the hill and became alumnae to the best school in the country and perhaps the world (RCJH, can I get an amen?), I had several nostalgic moments myself thinking about the graduate I was just one year ago. Also… why is this song called “Pomp and Circumstance”? I must google this later.
Anyway, in light of graduation day, I thought it appropriate to share the wisdom I’ve accumulated after a year of being out of the rose-colored umbrella that is college.
So when you’re all done drinking away your sorrows, hungover in your various beds wondering what’s next? Well.. There’s this.
In regards to the top ten things I’ve learned this past year I present-
An open letter to the Class of 2012:
10- You’re going to be emotionally schizophrenic.
I remember the second I realized it was over. It was the middle of the night three days after graduation and I woke up from a dead sleep -circa 4:13 am- with incredible panic and sadness racing through my entire body. Everything was about to change! Indefinitely. FOREVER. And this isn’t fair! Because I’m happy! I’m stable! I know my place here! Why does that all have to be stripped away from me? What do you mean “happy graduation”? This isn’t happy. This is terrible. This is the saddest day of my life. Stop saying congratulations. Cant you see I’m in mourning? And then of course theres the ‘so what are your plans now?’ question. Is “good fucking question” an acceptable response here?… I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. My life was over. Sleep was irrelevant. As far as I was concerned, graduating pretty much fell along the same lines as running directly into a concrete wall repeatedly or jumping out of a plane with no parachute. This was tragic and I refused to celebrate.
And I was up and down. I was so happy and I was so sad. I was frustrated and excited and lonely and crazy and pretty much an emotional freakazoid.
And truthfully, I spent a good amount of time feeling this way. Even coming back, and seeing my friends going through those same feelings I remember that pain. That frustration. That desire to just encompass your life in this one moment and continuously live this day over and over again until you personally were ready to move on.
Unfortunately, everything has an ending. But luckily, everything also has a beginning. And eventually, these crazy moments begin to mellow out.
(….Ok, lets be real. I still have moments of emotional instability. But I chalk this up more to my gender and the amount of coffee I’ve consumed as opposed to my sadness of college being over. Like everything else in this life, moving on is a process.)
9. Some days are better than others.
You’ll wake up some mornings and be fine. College is over. Your friends moved away. You don’t have a job. But it’s cool guys! You’re alive and alcohol exists. Survival. You got this day in the bag.
But some days, all it takes is one little thing to tip you off and your whole day is ruined just wishing you could go back. I remember working in the fitting room at Anthropologie folding my 700th t-shirt and looking at Facebook about the first day of school. The first day that I wasn’t a part of. The first day I would never experience again. And then, all the progress I thought I had made went right out the window and I was back to being an emo zombie creature mourning college like some ex-boyfriend from my past I just couldn’t get over.
For these situations… Trader joes has really cheap wine. My advice? Go. Now.
8. You’ll probably go through at least 300 quarter life crises.
Through the course of the last year, I’ve decided to go to grad school at least 8 different times. I wanted to be a lawyer. A nutritionist. A personal trainer. Maybe I’ll go to culinary school. I should join the peace corps. I want a real job. I don’t want a real job. I’m going to turn into a crazy cat lady. I am already a crazy cat lady. I hate cats. Am I going to be a nanny for the rest of my life? Does my college degree mean nothing? It’s fine I’ll just spoon feed myself from this large jar of Nutella….Oh. Thanks a heap for knocking maintenance man. Yes.. this is exactly what it looks like. IM GOING THROUGH A “FIND MYSELF” PERIOD OK?!
7. Misery loves company.
Hey kid, you’re not alone! That’s probably the best part of this post-grad depression. Everyone is going through a little version of their own little battle to move forward with their lives. My roommate and I had several nights where all we did was sit in our little apartment and dissect our plan of attack for our future. And typically…it ended with the only major decision being made that we needed ice cream. Immediately. Thats a good rule of thumb by the way–When in doubt, (which when you’re 22 is pretty much your default setting) The answer is usually ice cream.
But still, sugar aside, those conversations were the best. Because above all else, we still had each other. And ultimately, when I would go to bed each night..It was nice knowing she also didn’t know what the hell she was doing with her life either. It was really hard. But I wasn’t alone. And for now, that had to be enough.
6. You aren’t going to figure it all out anytime soon. So stop trying.
Life plans.. Who needs ’em? Somedays you just have to wake up and face that day and only that day.For instance, today is Monday, May 14th. And today is one of those days for me. I will breathe and eat and exist and then I will go to bed. I will not figure out where I will be when I’m 28. When I am 32. When I am 57. I will not meet my soul mate. I will not get my big break. But… Hell. Maybe I will. Thats the point.
Stop trying to figure out the future. Your 20’s are like middle school and you just figured out you like the opposite sex and your voice is constantly cracking and your fashion sense is somewhere between what your mom picked out for you and wearing skirts so short that your teacher makes you put on basketball shorts as to not excite all the 12-year-old boys you so desperately want the attention of. Yep. Thats your 20’s in a nutshell. Awesome right?
You can’t change how awkward things are. How uncertain. How unstable. And your voice is going to continue to sound like a pre-pubescent Bieber and girls are forever going to be a mystery. So the sooner you learn and accept this, the better. You know nothing. And thats ok!
None of us do.
5. Don’t get stuck.
I live in LA. I just got a job at an awesome magazine. I’m moving to the beach! Holla, life is good. And you want to know why? Because I went through my own little version of hell to get here. It’s easy to stay somewhere because you are afraid of change. Change is terrifying. You don’t think it was scary as hell for me to move to a place I’ve never been to live with people I’ve never met and not know a single soul? I used to look in the mirror and think “This is what it looks like to go crazy. I am going insane. I have lost my mind.” But, was going a little crazy worth it? Yes. Absolutely. Because I refuse to get stuck. Believe me when I say, LA is hardly my final destination. Because I’m going places. And I don’t just mean travel.
4. You aren’t going to keep in touch with A LOT of people. (But it’s never too late to fix that!)
Post grad is weird for relationships. For me, most of my very good friends split to different parts of the country and almost immediately, I found myself thrown into an entirely new friend group. And it wasn’t necessarily that I was meeting new people, It was like banding together with those left behind. People you kind of knew during college but now only after so many other friends left, did you really find yourself in legitimate friendships with. And all of a sudden these people become the ones that matter. Others slowly disappear. Serious relationships. Job relocations. Time intensive graduate school. Whatever. The point is, communication gets harder. And those that stick around.. That make the effort, Well those are the ones you learn you can really count on. Someone can live in the same city as you, but if they never call.. Well they might as well be a million miles away. Keep those people in your life. A place is only as good as the company you keep.
3. You’re going to fail. A lot. ( and if you’re anything like me, you will do so epically and in large proportions)
I worked in retail. Which was awful. And I hated. And I was miserable. And then I scraped by as a glorified babysitter. Which was ok.. But hardly something that would sustain me long-term. So then I moved to Malibu and awkwardly tried to be a live-in nanny which I don’t think I even have to say how badly that went. I remember crying in my little apartment alone one of my last nights and thinking I was going to end up as a homeless bag lady. Oh and then, I was unemployed. And I couch surfed. And I basically lived out of my car. And I had several soul searching evenings involving abandoned parking lots and long distance phone calls. And this is all this past year! But the thing is, you have to fail. Failing makes you grow. You have to believe in things that fall through. You have to put faith in people who let you down. You have to fall in love and get your heart broken. You have to take shitty jobs and go through shitty situations. You have to get burned. You have to be disappointed. You have to do all of these things because it’s called living. Regrets make you learn. And I can’t even imagine all the other ways I’m probably going to screw up as I move forward in this life.. But I do know one thing. Every mistake I make is making me better. And I’m not going to allow the regrets of my past jade any part of my future. I’m learning. I’m moving forward. Fail on, my friends.
2. You’re never going to be here again.
This person you are right now? Reading this? A totally different person than you will be a year from now. One year ago, I was terrified. I saw graduation and I saw a black hole. The name of this particular hole was entitled “Meg’s Future.” And I was slowly being sucked into its directionless abyss. Kicking and screaming, but still. It was inevitable. The future waits for no one. All of a sudden you wake up and it’s the present. And you can continue living for the past, or you can accept the fact that it’s over, it was great and perfect, but it will never happen again. Relationships, experiences, memories, they’re all the same in this way. The only way to truly move forward, is not to mourn, but instead appreciate what was will never be the same again.
So graduates, welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life. Allow yourself to be a little sad, but know that you’ll get through it, like we all do.
Which brings me to my final point.
Yes, class of 2012, there is life after college.
There is happiness. There is fun! There are new experiences. And new relationships. And you will continue to thrive and learn and survive. You’ll feel confused and unstable about 90 percent of the time. But hopefully, you won’t get stuck. You’ll learn to love what you had, continuously look forward to what’s to come and most importantly, enjoy the day that’s directly in front of you. And I hope you do things that scare you. And try things that may (and probably will) fail. And I hope you go and see the world. And open your heart to relationships that may break your heart. And just be different. And crazy! Because yes, college is over. But your life sure as hell isn’t.
So, I’m going to say something that one year ago, I hated hearing. Because now, I understand. I finally get it. It took a year and it will probably continue to take several more years but here we go:
With utmost honest sincerity, I want to say congratulations to the Class of 2012. But I’m not saying congrats because you survived college. Or you made the grades. Or you walked down some hill and got some degree. I’m saying congratulations because you made friends. And memories. And experiences. And college aside, that’s called living! You did it. You successfully LIVED through the past 4 years of your life. And so if you’re still sitting there and wondering now what?
…. How about going and living the rest of it?
A girl who’s been there