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.
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?”)
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.