In less than a week, I’ll wear a hand-me-down graduation gown and a red Forever 21 dress and cross a makeshift stage in my college’s gymnasium to receive my diploma. (Actually, I’ll receive a blank folder for my diploma, which they ship sometime over the summer.)
I’ve been attempting to come to terms with graduating college since my freshman year. “What will I do when this is all over?” has been a more prevalent question for me than “what will I eat for dinner tonight?” I have my existential anxiety and corn flakes to thank for that. Like many, I dreamt of the days when this was all over. I like to live in the moment too, but school by nature is about imagining a future: a future in which I apply knowledge learned now. Is there an option to live in the immediate post-grad time forever? Perhaps my dress is a symbol.
We’re all eager. College is set up to train students to wait. We’re like dogs staring at a treat, forced to spin in circles and sit and stand and shake paws and, in some cases, beg. The treat isn’t the diploma. The treat is the rest of our lives, dangling in a state of suspended reality, dropped at our feet along with our thrown caps.
Up until age four, I was in the school of life. I listened to audiobooks, narrated in real life by my mom and dad. I spent my days grocery shopping and playing with my cats. I ran around outside and occasionally rode bikes with my neighbor. I loved this school. I was happy and free of stress. Ah, to be four.
Then, without my consent, I was placed in the school of order and rules and state-decided curriculum for the following 17 years.
In t-minus two final exams, three papers and one miscellaneous assignment, I will rejoin the school of life. I have a tentative lesson plan, effective immediately after a weekend of binge drinking.
- Read whatever I feel like reading. I’m thankful for my professors for encouraging me to read, sometimes deeply and sometimes skimmed fifteen minutes before the start of class, esteemed, name-dropping authors. I wouldn’t have made it past chapter one of several of those works if I hadn’t been forced. I’d apologize to those author’s spirits, but I still had to read them and no one has to read me, so they don’t need my apology.
- Write whatever I feel like writing. Should I keep an ongoing personal diary? Should I write pretentious personal essays? What about creative fictional short stories? Might fuck around and write some poetry? No one is going to fail me! Freedom! (If I add exclamation points, I’m practically Whitman!)
That is literally all I have on the agenda this summer.