May 20th looms in front of me and my friends like a black cloud with a silver lining. It’s the last day of UMD’s many graduation ceremonies, a few of us having already been graduated for an entire day. It’s the end of college, less than one month away, and I am not at all prepared for the real world. For the past four years, I’ve pleasantly lived in the bubble of College Park and D.C., but now my time is up. And I am not looking forward to leaving campus even though I should be jumping for joy that I’m finally free.
Summer is tainted and fraught with confusion.
For the last 16 years, summer has been my reprieve. From June until the end of August, the long dog days have been my own to fill with going to the pool or reading or hanging out with friends from home. But, come September, I always had a responsibility: school. This is the first time in my life that I have nothing to bring an official end to my summer except for the transitional fall weather. What do I do? There are only so many days where it’s appropriate to wear short shorts and a bathing suit top.
The job search is brutal. Let me repeat that: BRUTAL
If you have a job straight out of college or even a steady summer stint as a lifeguard or caddy, whatever may have you, congratulations! I’m really proud of you, you have no idea. My main job has been my studies, though I’ve held jobs in between as well. But the real workplace – with full time hours and 401Ks – make me want to puke. I have been applying for jobs since January to no avail, and I fear that it’ll only get worse the further out from graduation I get.
It doesn’t make sense though. We go to college to learn a trade, but don’t know how to properly apply myself for it. I don’t know what salary is a living wage. I don’t know if I need dental insurance. And what do you mean by three to four years of experience needed? What counts as experience? THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, I WAS NOT TAUGHT THIS IN SCHOOL.
When am I going to see my friends?
I had this same thought when I stood on the doorstep of high school graduation. The solution was easier then: we all had to come home for breaks, so we’d see each other then and talk in between. Even with those stipulations, I’ve fallen out of touch with most of my high school friends.
I don’t want that to happen to the people I met in college. My friends have been my family for four years, helping me through breakdowns and breakups and everything in between. But we’re all moving on: one is moving across the country, another starting work just three days after graduation. There’s no guarantee when we’ll see each other next. It’s hard enough to get all of us together on campus. What happens when 300 miles separate us?
The constancy in my life is out of whack.
As sad as it is for me to think about it, this is the only thing I really know how to do. I’ve had the privilege to spend over half of my life learning. But now I’m being thrown out without much idea of what’s to come. At least when I graduated high school, I knew I was going to college. I knew that I would be moving away and meeting new people, but the promise and expectation of going to class and having homework grounded me.
As my mom told me the other day, this is one of the biggest transition we’ll ever make in our life. While some of my classmates have their paths laid out for them –years of grad school, a job already set up for them post-grad, traveling the globe – I don’t. I don’t have a steady habit to return to once I’m done with break. And it’s daunting because it’s way outside of my College Park bubble.
It’ll be an adventure. Scary, but an adventure nonetheless. Who can say no to that?