If you like your superheroes tall, dark, and broody, Batman is right up your crime-ridden alley. Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered in front of him. He dealt with his grief by dressing up like a bat and jumping off tall buildings to eradicate the scum poisoning his city. He’s a misunderstood maniac, but also a beacon of hope, delivering justice where others cannot. A silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.
Stew on that, Bruce Wayne-style, while I talk about something unrelated.
When I was 11, I moved to Hawaii.
At the same age wizards go to Hogwarts, preteen girls become terrible humans. Before the move, adults were always trying to assuage my angst by telling me it was going to be an experience. I quickly realized calling something “an experience” is a misleadingly positive way to say nothing at all. Describing something that way is completely accurate and completely inadequate.
So I’m graduating college in three days.
Actually, can you excuse me for a second? My brain keeps doing this stupid thing. If you’re up for a little peek inside my head right now, join me in the following parentheses. If not, skip ahead like nothing happened.
(AAAAAAAA! THE FUTURE! IT’S HERE! I’M IN TROUBLE! AAAAAAAAA! Ok. I think that was all I needed. Let’s do this.)
I have to finish a two-month internship over the summer, so I’m technically not DONE done, but it feels pretty graduation-y since I’ve finished my last undergrad class and I won’t be back next fall. My classmates and I have spent the last eight months worrying about this moment, with varying degrees of intensity. Last semester, we all joked about how we weren’t sure what we’d do after graduation but stepping into oncoming traffic was looking better and better ha ha. This semester, it’s not unusual to catch yourself thinking half-seriously about how quickly you can get to the nearest busy intersection.
At some point, though, it became too much work to worry about the future. I figure as long as I feel self-actualized and I don’t end up starving to death or sleeping on the streets under a copy of one of those “funny” newsletters bad breakfast diners keep on the tables, I’ll be alright. (I apologize if you write for one of those newsletters, but if you have to sleep under a paper, you probably don’t have time to giggle over why glue doesn’t stick to the inside of the bottle or why doctors call their businesses “practices”. I imagine you spend more time worrying about things like how to find food and avoid the pigeon-iest benches.) The point is, I’m not feeling anxious anymore. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to graduation. I’m even experiencing something like… happiness.
Every couple of days, I go through these intense mood swings that freak everyone around me out. I’ll be whistling and laughing one moment because life’s a fillet of fish, and the next second I’m rocking back and forth in a dark corner, muttering to myself and making 30-page long to-do lists. I can blame hypoglycemia and bad weather as much as I want, but I’m pretty sure it will only get worse over the next six months, when the catalyst for this serious case of the crazies finally passes: I’m graduating in May and it’s freaking me out.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have reached this point in my life. I’m excited to see where life after college takes me, and I can’t wait to say snooty things in Latin like, “I’m an alumna of my alma mater, e pluribus unum, simper fi, et cetera.” (I’m not great with Latin.) All those things sound swell, but I think I’d appreciate them more if the whole thing didn’t make me want to hide under every blanket within a five-mile radius.
Freaky Thing #1: I lied. I’m not excited to see where life after college takes me.
I have this horrible sinking feeling that life is sort of a “fly by the seat of your pants” deal, and I am not that kind of gal. I’d like life to pick me up at the airport with a neatly-lettered sign and present me with an itinerary so detailed it verges on anal. I want to know exactly where I’ll be at 5:00 p.m. on June 25, 2026 and precisely who will be there with me. For the first time in my life, I don’t have any kind of plan and I’m not handling it well. It turns out I’m only ok at improvising in the “take suggestions from the audience” sense.
Freaky Thing #2: I forgot how school works.
In the past, I knew I’d have at least another year to retake a class if I messed it up horribly, but I never had to do that. Now that I don’t have that buffer, the pressure’s on. I’ve lost all faith in my ability to pass classes. As soon as my photojournalism professor announces my pictures don’t have strong narrative, I start mentally berating myself for being unable to point a camera at something and photograph it LIKE ANY NORMAL PERSON. CHIMPS CAN DO THIS, STEPHANIE! YOU DON’T DESERVE FRIENDS OR HAPPINESS! GO CRY IN YOUR BLANKET FORT! The abuse is so intense that I’m thinking of moving to a women’s shelter just to get away from myself.
If you had Googled me before I started this blog, the only results would have been from Boy’s Life‘s archives and a site called “Ask Dr. Math”. Boy’s Life published a joke I sent in when I was 10 (they paid me two dollars for it!), and Dr. Math helped me win the 9th grade science fair by suggesting a way to measure the randomness of a shuffled deck of cards (they gave me a reference book for it!). Nerdy websites and jokes. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell.
I make a lot of Bad Life Choices. I’m trying to cut back, which is why I have a Bad Life Choice jar ($1/BLC), but the truth is that I’ve had this jar for two years and lately I’m so broke I keep having to write IOUs to it. Since the financial appeal clearly wasn’t effective, I also taped a quote to my wall this year.
“Deciding on the right thing to do in a situation is a bit like deciding on the right thing to wear to a party. It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows, but deciding what is right is much trickier. The truth is that you can never be sure if you have decided on the right thing until the party is over and by then it is too late to go back and change your mind, which is why the world is filled with people doing terrible things and wearing ugly clothing.”–Lemony Snicket