When the school year began back in September, May seemed a lifetime away.
In December it felt like a miracle to have made it this far. Now, somehow it's March and I am going to walk across the stage and be handed a piece of paper attesting to my capabilities as a college educated individual. I can not wrap my head around the fact that everything I worked so hard for in the last five years is about to come together.
While I try to process through all of these thoughts, here are some I have been able to articulate so far:
1. Oh my god, I may actually get a job where I don't have to work on the weekends.
Like most other college students, I had to work throughout school to pay my tuition and bills. Anyone working retail or in the restaurant industry knows how frustrating it is to go to school all week and also have to work on the weekends. You miss out on so much with your family and your friends who are fortunate enough to not have to work as much as you do, but in the end, you have gained a valuable lesson in time management, the value of a dollar, and what it means to struggle. But it will still be nice when you don't need to struggle quite as much!
2. Oh my god, I actually have to get a job.
For some, this is a wake-up call that the weekday parties and irresponsible habits are over, but to me, it is the frightening idea that I have to start looking for a job that I will have to prove my qualifications for. I have been working in a restaurant for four years, and while I know I am qualified for the jobs in my field the fact that I will have to prove that to someone else is a bit intimidating.
3. I can finally quit my job.
Like I mentioned, I've been working in a restaurant for four years and while there have been some really fun times, I am not cut out for that job long term. Like any job, it takes a certain person to do really do well and enjoy and I am just not that person. It did well to pay my tuition and rent along the way, but the day I am able to leave for a job in my field will be a happy day.
4. No more grades???
Although being evaluated will never stop, even after school is over, the idea of not being given a letter or percentage on assignments that could alter the course of your future is a nice thought. Incentives like promotions in position and pay sound a lot more rewarding than an A+ to me.
5. No more busy work???
Whoever thought college students needed random pointless assignments was a literal monster. We are SO busy already, all of the time. Between working, going to school, having an internship, being a part of a family, and just being a 20-something year old, I can say that busy work will be the least missed from my college experience.
6. I actually made it.
I'm not sure why, but as a high schooler I never really saw myself graduating from college. Even in my earlier years in college I honestly didn't think I would make it through to the end. Somewhere along the way it just clicked and I pushed through it and even enjoyed most of it along the way. But as graduation gets closer I am still in shock that I actually made it this far.
7. What should I do after graduation?
Obviously, everyone's goal after graduation is to get a job, but this has been a long time coming and we all deserve a celebration. While I feel like I need a six-month vacation I can realistically probably do a weekend. Road trip? Bar crawl? Spa weekend? I'm thinking all three.
8. Wait, how much do I owe?
Graduation can make you nervous even if you are excited, but remembering that six months afterward you are going to have to start paying back on your loans you might feel a little less excited.
9. Will it still be acceptable to live in leggings and t-shirts?
While I already know the answer is most likely no, I am in denial and will continue to believe I can still get away with this wardrobe if it's accompanied by a nice necklace and sweater.
10. What do I want to do with my life?
I've spent the last five years of my life trying to decide this and changing my mind over and over. I have a specialized degree so I have a general idea of what I want to do, but who knows where I want to work or with what populations or with what issues. There is so much to choose from and I would take almost any job in my field at this point.
Graduating is scary. I'm starting to see the real world on the horizon and it's terrifying but it is so exciting. If you feel this same way, try to imagine how you felt when you started college, because for me they are similar feelings. We made it this far so we can make it through the next step, too.