In the office where I intern, it’s not unusual for someone to turn on the TV and let Fox News play quietly all day. I don’t pay much attention to it, but about twice an hour they play a commercial I cannot stop watching.
The ad features a man riding a horse around his giant estate, talking about how awesome it is that he earned his land and money and now he has a lot of gold. So much gold. He says things like, “Don’t you love the FEEL of gold?” and “Gold!” and “Isn’t being rich and touching all your gold the best? I gold-plated my wife!” (I might have made one of those up, but you get the idea.)
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.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a date. (If you don’t believe me, read THIS post to find out why, and this one to see why it’s going to be even longer until I get another one.) This is perfectly OK with me, partly because I grew up in a post-feminist society and I don’t need a man to complete me and stuff, but mostly because my life is so nutso right now that the very idea of having a social life is enough to give me stress dreams. My parents also have stress dreams, in which I die sad, alone, and childless.