Graduation: Part II

Graduating from college is like an Olympic athlete running a race. They sprint as fast as they can, they huff and puff and give it their all until they approach the finish line. And when they finally do, it’s all over.

All that hard work, all that blood, sweat, and tears, is over so quickly. You give 110% toward finals week only to have it all end in just a short while. That is how most of us college graduates feel at this moment. Unless we have a job lined up immediately, most of us have the luxury of sitting back and reflecting on all that has happened. It’s weird coming back home and being able to sleep in till noon. I had to wake up at 7:30 every day during finals week in order to cram for my next test. All that mental strain took its toll on morning Friday, when I was finally able to rest.

Thank God I will never have to worry about another finals week for at least a while. Graduation weekend was really tiring. Finishing up finals, senior reflections, Baccalaureate, Commencement, saying goodbye to good friends, packing up and moving out, and doing the long drive from Spokane to Federal Way is no small task. It might take me three years to fully recover. Hopefully not.

But now I get to wait for my summer job to start. I will be working for Stone Soup Theatre, a small Seattle theatre that specializes in producing one acts. They have a yearly summer theatre camp for kids that I assisted directed for last year. This year I get to be an actual director. I might not be working at a job that’s within my major (journalism and mass communications), but it’s something. In this economy, you have to take what you can get.

With graduation comes the fear of the unknown. Most of us don’t have jobs lined up, let alone long term career goals. Many people I talk to are spending the next couple of months job hunting or traveling. That sounds nice. I will be working a little and trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. For those of us fearing ambiguity, I have to say to them: “lighten up!”

Summer should be a more relaxing time, anyway. The sun is out, the weather is generally nicer, and the possibilities are endless. We can do anything at this point in our lives. We can work, travel, do both, or sit and think about our future. Sounds gloomy, right? Perhaps. But we have another option: we can do something that we would never have done before. Now is our chance to take a pro-active stance on our lives and live out our dreams.

Ever have the fantasy of sitting on the beach, listening to groovy music, and soaking up the rays? Now you can do that. Ever want to take a long road trip with your best buddies and create life-long memories? This is the best time to do it. Ever want to do something so epic and mind-blowing you could only dream about it? Now is the time to attempt that.

Think of college graduation as a beginning, not an ending. Yes, we are no longer college students, but what else has changed? We are still the same people that we were two months ago when we were thinking about classes, tests, and partying. Okay, maybe not partying if you go to Whitworth University. But you get the idea.

The race might be over, but now we are running a different track. A marathon is more like it than an actual sprint. There are no really significant benchmarks left in our lives, unless you count marriage and raising a family. Such thoughts have not occurred to me yet. It’s weird to think that friends of mine are getting married. Where did the time go?

This world isn’t as scary as we might think. Despite the depressing job market, we could not have graduated at a more creative-inducing time. Those of us who need to make a living need to be more creative than our predecessors. Should we pursue our dream jobs or drudge it out at some dead end job that pays the bills? Why not do both? If we can, we should.

For those of us starting this marathon, we have plenty of people who are running it with us. It’s more comforting to go into the unknown when you know you’re going to have friends coming with you. I have plenty of friends in the same boat as I. You don’t see me freaking out, do you? (I might be freaking out a little, but I’m good at hiding it)

For now, I can spend my time practicing theatre and watching the Seattle Mariners play baseball. They might not be playing too well now, but what do you expect? Life will go on. They’ll be back next year.

But you know what? All of us college graduates will be back next year, too. We may not be in a classroom per se, but we’ll be somewhere. Specifically where is now up to us. Scary thought, n’est-ce pas?

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