Graduating Is A Lot
“Well, at least I have to go to school”: My mantra for at least 5 years now (wasn’t a big academic in high school, an expectedly lukewarm medium surprise on that). Regardless of any emotional state or life change, I was still a student. I had student responsibilities and student self-development and other studenty things to take care of.
Appears to be time to let go of that consistency, and find new ones. Pretty much all of my friends already graduated or never did, but they have all entered the real world with I’m sure as just must “what now” as I’m feeling right now, if not more. The real world can be a big, bigger, biggest place.
Sometimes those feelings are gradual, you spend weeks overanalyzing about the changes only to realize they’re anti-climatic and everything stays mostly the same. Sometimes you don’t even know that they’re there, they’re just sitting, waiting until the day that you leave your class, get into your car, and say “this is the last time I’m paying for parking at the U, literally.” Sometimes it’s both: the feelings you anticipated and the feelings you’re having run headlong into each other and suddenly you’re feeling 1, 2, 3, then 18 feelings, you’re listening to Lake Street Dive but you aren’t even sure that you’re enjoying it, it’s too much input for the amount of output you have. You shut off the car stereo and sit in silence. You say “this is nice.” Out loud, loudly, and with a period. No capital T, do you think this is a full sentence?
You make plans for later, then cancel them. You clean your car, but don’t vacuum it. You can’t wait to start getting paid for your work, but you still don’t really get taxes. You look for things you’ve lost months ago, in your room, with the door closed. You open the door of your refrigerator 3 different times and then try to go do something else.
For you that have passed the mark, I feel you now. This shit is a trip.
For you that haven’t, love school with as much as you can muster, even though there’s 4 essays due tomorrow at 11:55 and a test 5 minutes after that. That stuff will wash away.
I wish I could stay here forever, but I can’t wait to leave. I’m so sad, and so happy, and confused and miserable and god I’m so tired and peaceful, but I am so awake, I’ve never been more awake.
But I’ll probably nap soon, I’m exhausted. It’s 18+ feelings! Instead of leaving it behind, bring it with you where you go, and tell others how awesome, beautiful, horrifying and straight up tragic it has been. Nobody can tell you what it’s like; you see people graduate, they seem like they can’t even express accurately how they feel, and you say, “I think graduating is pretty hard on them”, but you simply can’t connect it to yourself. You can’t! It isn’t possible. You can speculate in any analytical direction but you can’t conceptualize or feel with every sense all the changes and letting-goes that filter into simply not being in school anymore, potentially for the rest of your life. It’s like trying to imagine a color of another spectrum. You can’t know until you are feeling it, seeing it, right there in the parking lot, watching the minutes on the meter tick down until you’ve made your last parking payment. It’s 25¢ for 15 minutes and you put another quarter in the meter and just walk around that parking lot. Whatever you conceptualized, whatever you downplayed or accentuated when your friends graduated just doesn’t mean much anymore, it took 15 minutes and you’ve been there now, at the edge of space. Even when you’re in a carrier-sized spaceship full of people, it’s lonely out there.
Let yourself feel sad and nostalgic. You’re allowed it. But you will see a grand canyon of consistencies, so practice radical self-care and tenderness. It’s never going to be quite, quite The Worst. As my very own sister once said,
Like the rest of fucking life, having sympathy for yourself is a tenuous act of plate spinning. […] The point is, learning to be careful with yourself is tough.
I can say with conviction that it’s okay to stray from the path, if that’s what you need to do. It’s okay to get so far away from home that you don’t know what to do anymore, like how to get up in the morning or talk about the weather, or make eggs or breathe correctly like all animals can instinctively do. It’s okay to spend all the money, even if the money’s not yours. I’m sorry but it is, it’s okay to do whatever you have to do to make some goals come to fruition. If it turns out they weren’t forever dreams, that’s meaningless. Nothing is forever, nothing, not this meat cage, not this glorious rock, and as long as you can feel this sheer gratitude, without agenda or equation, this one moment when all the world’s problems shrivel and you can sit in a quiet space of thanks, then you did damn good. It is messy and stupid and you’re messy and stupid but you’re loved, you dummy. If you can know that, then you’re golden. Do whatever, go wherever. Just learn from it and bounce back, and say thank you to all the people that deserve it. Including yourself.
And an amalgamation of quotes from the magical, leader of chill and recovery Anne Lamott:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. […] But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”
“Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.”
“Giving is what we are starving for; not getting.
If you want to have loving feelings today, do some really loving things.
Trying to get the world and the public to give you these feelings of huge love and fullness is like trying to get Dick Cheney to grade your value as a human being.
It is not out there. The world does not have it to give. But we do.
This is going to be a magical day.”
I don’t like chocolate, none of you can probably deal with that that middle quote. I surrounded it with other quotes to lessen your burden. But the point is this, and this is the point: don’t force yourself to feel anything, and especially don’t feel obligated to feel everything, but at least let yourself feel something. That’s when things really go nuts.
Stay safe, you nerds.