Just kidding. If you haven’t learned that after four Founder’s Days, then you’re basically doomed to spend the rest of your formative years (which you will surely find a way to extend into your thirties) rolling around in Brooklyn wearing flannel and being offended by things.
I write this because I want to comfort my 2012 friends who are having a collective social media freakout over their impending graduation. Short version, courtesy of my dear friend Amanda’s omnipresent wall art: EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.
But really. The real world is ridiculously fun and exciting and dynamic, and it is a place that is infinitely more painful, pleasurable, and rewarding than college. I look back on my college experience with great fondness and nostalgia, as well as a somewhat jaundiced eye that recognizes now that most people graduate from Vassar with at least one of the following:
a) eating disorder
b) conviction that there is no such thing as good sex
c) prescription for antidepressants
d) addiction (empanadas count)
e) self-esteem hovering somewhere above “worthless pond scum” (girls)
f) self-esteem hovering somewhere below “Adonis and God’s gift to flannel-wearing biddies everywhere” (boys)
In the real world, you will recognize that none of these conditions are particularly healthy (the prescription for antidepressants notwithstanding, but were it not for Obamacare or the elusive health insurance, that shit can be a liability). You will begin to rid yourself of these conditions. You will no longer skip dinner and spend the evening taking shots chased with diet soda to minimize your calorie intake. You will not pull all-nighters. You will go on dates with people who ask you questions about yourself instead of telling you about the essay they plan to write one day combining the fundamental elements Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and T.I.’s “Whatever You Like!”
I was lucky in that I lived in the house that hosted some of the rockinest sockinest ragers on the Vassar College theatre/a cappella/dance scene (and let me tell you, the ability to harmonize does not negate one’s propensity to spill their beergarita on the floor and then track a bunch of rain-soaked grass all over it). I was thusly prepared to live in an apartment where the bathroom was lit by a desk lamp balanced precariously on a towel rack.
I moved home to Las Vegas from college in Poughkeepsie immediately after graduation. I moved to New York from Las Vegas six months after graduation. I moved from New York back to the West, where I will eventually settle in Palo Alto, eleven months after graduation. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of useless belongings, spent a lot of money on moving and associated fees, carried a lot of heavy shit up and down stairs, cursed myself for having no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and found security in the knowledge that I belong out West. I needed to move to New York to know that. It’s okay. If something you do turns out to be a grave error, try as desperately as you can to pull meaning from it. Let no action you undertake be in vain.
(Example: you may discover, too late, that red wine-red wine-Tequila Sunrise-mojito is a terrible pattern to follow. Learn from this experience that you should always store an extra pair of underwear in your purse, lest you… misplace yours.)
The real world is a better place than college. Here is a list of reasons why:
1) You aren’t constantly surrounded by people you actively and/or passively hate
2) You don’t have to pretend you always want to go out on Friday night lest your peers discover that you are actually a grandma
3) You are actually doing something productive. If you’re employed, you’re working, and they pay you. Probably not enough and you’re probably overqualified for your job and you probably would rather chew off your own arm than continue working there for the rest of your life, but I find the business of going to work and getting paid infinitely more satisfying than writing a boring paper and getting a good grade for it. (Best of both worlds: getting paid for writing a boring paper. Being a professional writer is AWESOME.) If you’re unemployed, well, you’re probably BEASTING job interviews.
4) YOU NEVER HAVE TO DRINK CRYSTAL PALACE VODKA AGAIN!
Friends, I could continue. I could write a book about the ways in which the past year, in which I got rejected from about ten million jobs, left New York after four months because it made me nauseous and claustrophobic, and got unceremoniously dumped on my ass by a dude who once concluded a text message to me with the phrase “much love,” was better than my four years of college. If I could sum it up, I would just say this: I’m a REAL PERSON now. I can’t afford to pay my cell phone bill yet and my next employment venture might only be three months long, but I’m a grown-up and the world is at my feet. The WORLD, kids, not just Poughkeepsie.
And seriously, did I mention that you never have to drink Crystal Palace vodka again?
That alone should make you excited to graduate.