One of my favorite things about being on the verge of graduation is the new way in which people greet me. Gone are the days of walking around campus and catching a smile or the age-old “Hey, how are you today?” Instead, every time I see a friend or remote acquaintance the exchange goes something like this:
“Hey, how are y- OH MY GOSH! You are graduating in” *a pause to look up and count in their head* “four days! OH MY GOSH!”
Sometimes the reaction can be so loud and unexpected that I jump a little. I’m also inclined to take a couple steps back from them because I’m always scared that they might grab me by the collar of my shirt and shake me around a bit.
“Are you excited?” they’ll continue, “Are you completely stoked? Can you not even wait?”
“I guess,” I say, then correct myself “well, yea. I am!” Saying anything else in a situation like this would be the equivalent of answering “No” when a Pentecostal preacher yells “Do you all want to praise Jesus today?!” from the pulpit.
Most deem this response acceptable, but a select few want to go deeper, so they lower their voice and turn somber: “Are you scared?”
I’m not sure how to respond. I’m scared of lots of things (bugs that can kill me, living in Florida, blind dates) but I don’t know if I can say the same about graduating. I have, after all, been aware of and even anticipated it for the past few years. But then, I think, there is the impending “real world”, the bills, decisions and jobs. Let alone the fact that I’m graduating from Wheaton single, so…. “I guess. I’m just taking one day at a time, ya know?”
“Well!” They perk up, “That’s all you can do, isn’t it?”
“I guess,” I say. Four years of college education and most of my responses are simply “I guess”. Great.
They smile, mention something else they had to do and continue on their merry way, sometimes throwing out a “have a good life!” in parting.
I’ve spent two and a half years at this school, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a lot. But at my age, this is just about 1/8 of my life. It seems like it’s flown by. Heck, all of college seems like a blur; part of me is still waiting to wake up in my bed as a freshman in high school, and realize this was all just a dream. I’m told this is the closing of a chapter, but I prefer to think of it as a paragraph instead. Like all paragraphs, this one is composed of separate sentences evolving around a single idea or topic. I suppose these days have got to come to an end. Even the best paragraphs, if drawn out for too long, only produce an annoyed reader.
I’m used to commas in life; the summers, the Christmas vacations, the “I’ll see you in a few weeks”. Every now and then I experience the periods or exclamation points: the breakups, parting of ways or even transferring schools. But this is the end of a paragraph, the end of a significant phase of my life. Pretty soon I’ll hit the “enter” key and jump to a new one. In a sense it may be scary, but I think it becomes less so as I focus on what will be typed next.