I graduated college last Saturday morning. Wait, did I really? It all felt like kind of a blur. I had put sleeping on the back-burner for the days leading up to graduation in the hopes of crossing off more places and experiences on my college bucket list (check and CHECK), and while I was zombie-like during commencement, the morning was surreal, it was worth it and it was amazing. My experience at OU was absolutely spectacular, confusing, stressful, bittersweet and incredible. I can truly say that I don’t have any regrets.
I’ve always thought that college was the time to answer those “big questions.” You know, the, “What kind of person am I?” “What do I want to do with my life?” “Who do I want to be?” “What is important to me?” It was definitely naive of me to believe I would come out of college and have the answers to all of these questions, as if I would obtain my degree and suddenly hold this knowledge. Like, aha! That’s it. To add to this, I grew up with the preconceived notion that I would meet that special significant other in college. After all, a lot of my parents’ generation did. I thought I would step out of the Convocation Center (where commencement was held on campus) and have that big fat epiphany — THIS is who I am. THIS is what I will do. THIS is why I need to do it.
But I didn’t. I didn’t reach it, and you know why? Because even if I felt I held the answers to those big questions, they wouldn’t be constant. The person I was when I graduated is not who I always will be, and that’s what’s amazing about being done with college. Everything that was pre-planned, those 17+ years of schooling that were not an option to forgo had ended, and as a result of my experiences at school, this is who I am right now.
In college, I learned that I didn’t want to be a conventional print journalist. I learned that it’s really easy to get sick of Easy Mac for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I learned how to write a proper email to a professor, sans smiley faces. I discovered my love for Chipotle. I figured out that jumping into a serious relationship when you don’t have many friends yet is a terrible idea. I learned that I was serious about the Spanish language and culture. I learned that running through a thunderstorm in the pouring rain and sliding through mud makes for an amazing memory. I learned that if I kept certain toxic relationships in my life, my heart would never heal. I learned that folk music can help with that, though, as well as any episode of Friends. I learned that I’m passionate about living (mostly) healthy and keeping active. I’ve learned that if the weather is beautiful, you won’t study or do anything productive, period (and you shouldn’t). I learned that I could do anything if I really worked at it, including running a half marathon and interviewing at a top publishing company in New York City. I learned that being a great graphic designer means being open to change and not falling in love with your own work. I discovered true rejection when people told me “No” or “You can’t do it.” I learned that true friends can also make great roommates. I learned that it’s OK to look forward to buying O’Betty’s french fries or Good Fellas at 2 am. I’ve figured out what qualities I look for in a prospective relationship. I’ve learned that friends always appreciate a homemade meal and a nice glass of wine (or two… or three). I’ve learned that I’m in love with meeting people who are ambitious and passionate about what they want to do and be. I’ve discovered the beauty and meaning of a hand written letter and printed photograph. I’ve learned that I should try everything at least once, especially if the moment never arises again. And I’ve learned to recognize that it’s acceptable to be afraid. Ultimately, I learned to take risks to become who I am at this point.
My roommates and besties
As a result of my experience at my first, second and third jobs, I will be another person. I will have new memories in new cities, and new friends and relationships that follow. I will be free and ecstatic and miserable and distraught at the same time, because I am 22 and I’m indecisive sometimes. I make mistakes and still have to learn how to deal with rejection. The phrase, “Now what?” has never felt so applicable or real or inevitable. The world is waiting for me…
And I am ready. I’m ready to start fresh. I will be headed Washington, D.C. in June for my first endeavor as a real designer. It hasn’t really hit me, hasn’t really smacked me across the face yet. But the excitement and fear and desire for the unknown is there. And it’s strong.
(I’m not sure how frequently I will be updating while working full time, but I’ll try not to be a stranger. And go do cool, healthy things in city!)