For the last 17 years, I’ve had my life mapped out. I was going to do well in high school, graduate, and then study Business Administration at Cal. At least, that’s what my five-year-old self told me in a page out of my Hello Kitty diary. In my rudimentary handwriting, I misspelled it “UC Berkley;” but nonetheless, those words reminding me of my college dream school are still etched onto that light pink paper. Little did I know, even when I came into UC Berkeley as a freshman, I’d do that and then some by pursuing a simultaneous degree in Media Studies. Since I’ve turned that tassel from right to left, I’ve been dealing with the feeling that my life’s been turned upside down.
Flashback to the beginning of the spring semester of my senior year.
My stomach was in knots anytime I had conversations with my friends about facing unemployment and struggling with the recruitment process. When I was experiencing anxiety about the future, I asked some friends who already graduated in a timid whisper, “What’s it like... after this?” Almost as though there would be nothing to look forward to but death on the other side, the void. Allaying my fears, my friends have all told me that “adulting” doesn’t mean that the fun ends, it’s just different. And in semi-comforting, semi-nauseating terms, they said that they still don’t have everything figured out yet.
I really wanted to believe that there would be a happy ending in all this tumult. I’d catch myself craving for an illusion of consistency, so I would order a banana cream pie from Nation’s every time I was stressed. Even in the days leading up to commencement, I thought it would be comforting to watch a movie together. To the chagrin of my friends, we streamed Post Grad, the 2009 movie starring Alexis Bledel, only to sneer at the unrealistic expectations her character Ryden had for life after college. Ryden, who’s basically a carbon copy of Rory Gilmore, thought that she was going to land her dream job at a publishing company right after graduation, only to discover that it’s not so easy. *insert eye roll here* Maybe if we watched the film with rose-tinted glasses, we could have seen the rationale behind why Roger Ebert gave it three stars.
Despite all our millennial cynicism, I’m still searching for a silver lining somewhere out there. I’m back home in Stockton now, continuing the job hunt and winding down after the chaos of moving out and seeing friends move on too. I’ll miss the ease of seeing them while crossing the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph, randomly at the Taco Bell Cantina, and beside me in class. After the dust has settled, I’ve had time to catch my breath and look back on these last four years of higher education. School isn’t my life anymore, even though it’s everything I’ve ever known. And that’s okay.
Monumental change is a rude awakening at first, but I’m gradually coming to appreciate that life isn’t perfect. Its road map isn’t supposed to be written in Sharpie, but with pencil so you can always make adjustments for those windy turns. This period of uncertainty too shall pass and the next chapter of my life will start soon (I hope!). Graduation doesn’t mean that we stop living and learning. There’s more life, more everything ahead.