It’s been almost two weeks since I graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor’s degree in English. When it was all happening, I honestly couldn’t stop crying. I made my family extremely proud, which is an incredible feeling. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college, and to see both my mother and great grandmother tearing up in the audience really moved me. They were just so proud.
And I have to admit I’m pretty proud of myself, too.
College was hard. Often there were more difficulties than I signed up for, more obstacles than I was willing to jump, more stress than I was willing to bear, and I wanted to leave. At the same time, college was the most wonderful four years of my life thus far. It is one of the world’s most frustrating contradictions. It’s a place were you can find yourself and also develop an anxiety disorder at the same time.
Nevertheless, it’s sad to think that I won’t see the people that mentored me, inspired me, motivated me on a regular basis. But the thing about college is that once you’ve figured it out, it’s time for you to go, and you usually figure it out by your fourth year. Sometimes it’s your fifth, and sometimes it’s your sixth, but you’re not supposed to stay in college forever. Eventually and hopefully you will graduate.
This is where reality sets in.
I want to give a big shout out to all my college graduates right now who are back home in their old bedrooms or on the couch because their parents changed their room to a fitness center. It sucks. I know. I’m with you.
Being back home I am reminded of all the reasons why I went out of state to go to college in the first place. I am also reminded of my current state of employment and how much worse it feels to not work and be home. Fortunately, I will be leaving soon for my Master’s at the end of the summer in Maryland, but these three months leading up to it are frightening.
I have to prepare myself. I have to work to put down a deposit on an apartment. Pay utilities. Get renter’s insurance. Ride the Metro. I don’t know how to do this s**t. My college degree did not prepare me for this.
I don’t know how mortgage works.
I don’t know how my loans work.
I don’t know how to do most adult things.
I rely on my mother, brother, and the internet as my main source of information. It’s all enough to make your head explode, but I’m trying to keep my cool.
I was on the phone with my brother the other day asking him for job interview help. He never went to college, but he does pretty well for himself, and he’s a pro at interviews. He gets hired on the spot. I told him I thought about applying for this position at LifeTime Fitness.
“I think you have to have a degree to work there.” He said.
“Even if it’s just part time?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s crazy. I know, but go ahead and apply for it anyways.” He responded.
And then we both got really silent thinking about what we had just said, and then we bursted out in laughter. For a momentary second, we had forgotten that I had just graduated. I have a college degree. I can now apply for jobs that require a college education.
It it is so weird to think about this thing I had that I had dreamt about for so long being real. Education isn’t tangible. Yes, you can hold the actual diploma in your hand, but you can’t hold all those years of learning. You can’t even visualize all four years in your mind. So it’s taken me quite sometime to realize that I’m done with this chapter of my life, and I have something to show for it.
A college degree isn’t everything. It doesn’t guarantee you a job. It doesn’t make you better than anyone else. It’s half of a battle. If you can survive late nights studying, bad eating habits because you don’t have time to cook, extra jobs and internships, student org meetings, anxiety attacks, over demanding professors, you can survive “adulting” and make some actual change in the world. Granted in college, you had a network of people to support you and guide you in the right direction, but you are the one who did the work. You’re capable.
And those people who helped you get to your dream would never want you to fall on your face. They didn’t disappear. You always have them if you really need them.
So when people ask me how I feel about graduating college and going off into the real world, I tell them I am absolutely terrified, but I’m also absolutely ready.
If you feel inclined to look through them, I have included pictures from my graduation ceremonies and a few of the people I love dearly. I’ve also included pictures from the wonderful Ryan Jumamil. If you need some pictures and are in the San Diego area, check out his IG: @Ry1989.