This is the iconic image of that iconic moment isn’t it? The exact moment when you are done with higher education and expected to join the real world. The moment when everything seems possible and you are totally connecting with your inner-kindergartener who truly believed they could be president. When you’re high on life because you’ve never accomplished anything this big before. When you are praised by everyone around you for the achievement that is graduating from college. When a piece of paper has never stood for so much. Except this picture is kind of false advertising.
For one thing, I’ll admit the weather conditions were not “sepia” that day. It also wasn’t candid. I was told to do it and frankly I wanted the shot. The smile is also forced, as I was really nervous about how many people were in front of Yankee Stadium at the time and that I was going to hit someone in the eye as soon as I threw the cap. On top of that, I had to get through all my pictures really quickly because respective family members and friends had to catch flights, get on the road, attend post-commencement lunches, or just really wanted to get out of the Bronx.
None of that is to say it wasn’t a special day. Because it was. It just wasn’t what you are told it is going to be. I felt more relieved than accomplished. Like a stack of textbooks had been lying on my chest continuously since freshman year and someone finally came over and said, “Oh, let me get those for you,” and suddenly I could breathe again.
And that was really nice of them because no one had offered to do that before. And breathing is nice and relaxing and I don’t feel like I got to do enough of it in college. I happen to be looking forward to doing more of it in the future and that day I added, “Breathe more often,” to my mental to-do list during the ceremony.
But since that day there has been no time for more breathing. I am at the same level of air consumption as I was before. Because now there is a box of resume paper, post-grad self-help books, job & fellowship applications, and student loan & credit card bills occupying the space on my chest where the textbooks once were.
And I never thought I would miss the crushing weight of Elementary Italian II and Journalism Ethics & First Amendment Law as much as I do right now. Because the burden you know is always easier to carry than the burden you don’t. Especially when it’s no longer socially acceptable to carry a backpack all the time.
So where does that leave me, other than with my self-diagnosed hypoxemia? Well, right now, I can confidently and without hesitation tell you I’m a college graduate. And also an adult, by all definitions of the word. But as anyone who has ever suffered through a speech that began with, “Webster’s Dictionary defines *insert basic noun* as…,” knows, definitions can be pretty vague. They mean nothing without context.
My age makes me an adult, but I don’t feel like one. And I don’t know at what point I am going to feel like one. But now is where I will attempt to become an adult.
I will do “grown-up” things dear readers and I will tell you of those grown-up things and you will marvel in the amount of adult points I am achieving. And if you could also give me grades throughout the semester I’d appreciate that, because I really hate not knowing how I am doing in class, I mean life, until the final. Then maybe we can decide together when I’ve officially become an adult. In the mean time, I’ll try and help you too. Deal?