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.

The shot is clear, it was just a super-blurry helicopter. Duh.

Freaky Thing #3: Whatever you want to do post-graduation, someone is going to have a problem with it.

In September, I started considering library school. On the scale of radical decisions, where one is “eating oatmeal for breakfast” and ten is “participating in the X Games using an angry shark instead of a skateboard and donating your sponsorship proceeds to holocaust-deniers”, going to library school is somewhere around negative eight. Nonetheless, when I tell people that’s what I’m doing, it’s like I’m telling them I want to surgically remove any potential I have so I can bedazzle it and put it on a shelf to decorate the hole I’ll be living in in a dumpster behind a fast-food restaurant. (And not even a good fast-food place. One of those weird, local knock-off places. Anyway.) If I ask people what they think I’m better suited for, they’ll suggest whatever they do for a living or they’ll tell me I’m using grad school to delay joining the real world. Now I’m second-guessing myself all over the place, even though it’s something I really want to do and it would be a great fit for me.

Freaky Thing #4: I need a new excuse.

When you’re a college student, you have a built-in excuse. You made a bad life choice? It’s ok, you’re in college! You hooked up with a jerk? You’ll move on, you’re in college! You bought your brother a pack of gum for his birthday? You can’t afford nice gifts! You’re in college! After graduation, you lose that leeway and people start holding you accountable. You never hear anyone say, “She was dating this dirtbag who robbed her blind, knocked her up, and tracked mud all over their apartment, but it’s ok because she’s a recent college graduate!” Now I have to own up to my choices… or come up with a new excuse. (e.x., “Sorry I killed your fish while petsitting it… my socks are too tight?”)

Socks on feet.

Freaky Thing #5: I so do not know how to be a grown up.

I was watching TV the other day when a car commercial came on. The salesman was really excited about APR financing, and I felt like I should be, too… except I don’t know what it is. Incidentally, I don’t know how to cook anything outside of Pop Tarts, I don’t even know how one obtains life insurance, and I have no idea how to change a flat tire. There are a lot of things real people know that I missed somewhere along the way. For a while there, I was convinced that everyone was faking it and smiling and nodding when stuff like that came up. Then I started to worry everyone else took some advanced Home Ec class in high school that I missed. Now I’ve arrived at the conclusion that there’s no hope for me. I’m going to die hungry and uninsured, in a car with a flat tire and bad APR financing.

If you need me, I’ll be over here in the fetal position, compulsively braiding my hair and counting and recounting credit hours.


  1. Pingback: Re: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes << Listful Thinking | Idigina
  2. Dan Bain

    You get to use a “just starting out” excuse for at least a year, so ride that rocket! Also, APR is Annual Percentage Rate (interest that you have to pay), you can stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 25 (I think), and to change a flat tire, you just call AAA. Seriously, nobody knows how to change one nowadays — most new cars don’t even come with a jack and a spare, because it would be a waste to include them. As for counting your credit hours, I’m sorry to say, that never really stops. You’ll still be having nightmares about it 25 years after you graduate, so don’t worry about it now. Have fun!

    • Stephanie

      Ha. This comment is so full of good news all the way up until that little last part– “Don’t worry, Stephanie. You’ll be having nightmares forever!” You’re like a very reassuring Google with a sense of humor. Thanks!

  3. gojulesgo

    Ha! If library school is what you want, go bedazzle the heck outta that shiz!

    I know exactly how you feel. I’m 29 and have been freaking out about turning 30 for OVER A YEAR. Mostly because of Freaky Thing #4. Take comfort in knowing you still have the, “Oh well, I’m in my 20s” excuse. And I don’t think you have to learn about APR financing until you’re at least 27.

    • Stephanie

      I know this isn’t going to make you feel any better about turning 30, but I feel so much better knowing that everyone in the world is freaking out about something, whether it’s graduating or having a birthday. Maybe we’ll both lose it at the same time! That could be fun! (Or really not fun. I don’t know.)

  4. Krista

    This is too funny. I am graduating two weeks from this upcoming Friday and I am TERRIFIED TO DEATH. I have a potential job offer that’s still in the works, my Mom is excited that I’ll never have homework again, but meanwhile I’m shaking in my boots trying to figure out how everyone else is able to pull things off such as paying bills, changing car tires, changing the oil in their car, etc. Yes, I’m 23, and I don’t know how to do any of that stuff. I have no idea what an APR rate is, I don’t know anything about getting health insurance. I’m screwed. I often think that I missed a secret Home Ec class in high school that everyone else took except for me. Glad I’m not the only one feeling left out. :) So you think you’re terrified now, just wait until you’re 2 weeks away from graduation. AH. But congrats anyway. You’ve made it this far.

    • Stephanie

      Congratulations on graduating! When I get to the two weeks away point, I will probably pee in my pants in sheer terror. I’m impressed that you had a job offer before leaving and SO, SO happy that we either both missed that class or it never existed in the first place. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  5. Sara June

    I can totally relate to #3… I felt the same way! I think the truth is there are very few things that you can choose to do that someone won’t have an opinion about (often a negative one!). If anything, I wish I would have started out doing just what I wanted instead of being pin balled down different paths by opinions. Good luck to you!!

    • Stephanie

      That’s so true. It’s getting easier to stick up for my choices, but it still kills me a little to have to fight for them pretty much every time. I hope you’re doing what you want now!

    • Stephanie

      Ha. I was really worried bedazzling was just a 90s thing that everyone would forget about, but I was in a Rite Aid the other day and saw a kit. I almost bought it just to bedazzle the phrase “THE FUTURE” on something.

  6. emisformaker

    At first, independence is hard, but at first, everything is hard.
    That is to say, life doesn’t get any easier, but dealing with it can. Breathing is integral to this, as is remaining adequately hydrated. Clearly, your community is behind you, so when things look really dire, try to remember that you’re not alone.

    • Stephanie

      This post has helped me see that more than anything else. It’s so cool to know that everywhere, people are in the same boat or understand exactly what I mean. Now to breathe and hydrate.

    • Stephanie

      Ha. About 98% of me really wants to chillax, but there’s this little tiny Woody Allen voice in the back of my head that spends a lot of time screaming and running around. I’m working on it, though.

  7. theliteraryhorse

    You are a brave brave woman. You are going to graduate! That takes courage.

    (Keep the blanket fort, it will come in handy, I still use mine.) If you said “library school” to me, I’d look up with excitement and ask “do you read the dictionary for fun TOO?” As for APR, it just means every payment you owe on the junk you buy is due in April. Nothing to worry about. Skip April for a few years and you’ll be fine.

    Who says you can’t section your days into classes after graduation? Right now I need remedial help in Gravel Moving Studies, and Successful Chiropractic Scheduling.
    Voila. School continues forever.

    • Stephanie

      Ha. Thank you for the words of wisdom. I could skip April. That seems doable. (I am definitely going to keep the blanket fort handy, just in case.) I hope you pass Gravel Moving and Chiropractic Scheduling with flying colors!

  8. ratheridiuclous

    I am totally using grad school to delay entering the real world. How does anyone feel, upon graduation, that they actually know enough to get a real job?! That’s the class I missed. The one where you actually learn everything you need to know to go to work.

  9. Restsindo - hty

    When people feel that they know it means the person is thirsty for knowledge. The higher the more people learn that just does not he pehami. Samakin in our learning so many new things that we know.
    It is not know in terms of seeking knowledge. Outlook would be different if we look from a different perspective sudat. Or maybe you did not know

  10. closspimentinha

    I have just graduated and I can totally identify myself with you! Specially when you say: “There are a lot of things real people know that I missed somewhere along the way”.
    I don’t know how to be a grown up and I do already miss my grad school days, when things seamed to be in a safe state.
    My post grad starts only next year, in March. So I have a whole year to enjoy my state of confusion and to feel as lost as a cockroach in the middle of a cross fire.

    I guess I’ll just hide under my blankets until 2013!

  11. gabrielgarbowota

    Hilarious. Don’t worry, though. I was great at being in school and still don’t know how to be an adult, but things are going pretty darn well for me somehow, in spite of it. Also, one of my best friends went back to school for Library Science and didn’t regret one second of it. She’s now a librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library system and loves it.

  12. Alex

    I got a nervous-poo feeling in my stomach from reading this. I’m graduating in December… also a journalism major… and I’m all like “What’s a Quorum court, guys??” and everyone else is like “Who’s the sad weird girl that doesn’t have her undergrad shit together?” Oh, it’s me. Hey.

  13. Pingback: Buckets of Rain, Buckets of Tears | Listful Thinking

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