I am back after a long hiatus; hello again! I am writing from my room in my parents house, and, to my excitement and dismay, a framed college diploma is lying on the bed in our guest room until I can find a place to hang it up in my room. Yes, that’s right, I am now a college graduate with a B.A. in English. Now what do I do with it? Seriously, the Avenue Q song didn’t exactly answer that question.
Four years ago if someone told me that I would graduate from college with a lousy piece of paper and an unpaid internship, I would have chosen to ignore them because I would have known that college would no doubt prepare me for more than this. And if that person had told me that I would be in a better position than a lot of the people in my graduating class, I would have probably shunned them or something. But this is where I am right now. I like to think of it as free training for something that is yet to come, and I get free lunches out of the deal, so it’s not all bad. But I didn’t set out to complain about the horrors of being thrust into the high heels of a real-world woman during an economic recession. This is supposed to be a piece about how it feels to be a college graduate.
So how does it feel? Honestly, it feels like every other summer so far. It feels like I’m going to perspire through the summer job search yet again, maybe settle for a life guarding position yet again, and spend every day wearing a goofy white tank top with a red cross on the front and blowing my whistle at kids who do back flips off the diving board. That is until it is time for me to pack up my life and move back into a college dorm. But it’s not like that this year. There will be no packing, and no moving (at least not that I know of yet). Nope, for the first time since 2006, my room at home is actually my room, and so I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks helping it to mature a bit.
That means that I’ve finally taken the Orlando Bloom poster off my wall, stored away the prom ticket flier that was still tacked to my bulletin board, and sorted through the mound of high school graduation cards and photos that claimed permanent reign over my desk during the time I was away at school. The next step is to give away the Babysitters club and Boxcar children books that are still on my bookshelf and to replace them with some of the books that I put on my to-read-after-I-graduate-college-and-have-no-more-coursework list (two of which were written by Mr. Larsson, and are referred to by the title of this post). But here’s a question: am I cleaning out my bookshelf and taking apart my bulletin board to cut down on clutter, or to force myself to feel like a college graduate?
It’s not as though I’m looking for Beauty-and-the-Beast-like sparks to shoot from my limbs and, after a couple seconds, disappear to reveal me as a grown up. Of course not, but I expected to at least feel something. I was talking to a girl who graduated a couple years ago who said that it’s not until it gets cold that you realize you’re not a student anymore. This makes sense, because for the past sixteen years, the majority of my winter days have been spent in a classroom. The one exception may be junior year, because I didn’t spend too much time in a classroom during the winter when I was in England. There was also not really a winter in England. There were a total of about two days when it snowed an inch or two and all of the railroads shut down due to “extreme conditions.” There was mass hysteria everywhere.
Anyway back on task, maybe the realization that I’m no longer a college student will hit when the leaves start to turn colors and when everyone heads back to school, or maybe it’ll hit during the first snowfall, or maybe it never will. Maybe it’ll just be a really, really long transition.
In the meantime, as I continue await my shimmering transformation, I’m off to pile those pre-teen series books into a box, and to try to solve Princeton’s vital question, “What do you do with a B.A. in English?”