Reflecting on Graduation: How 4 Years Of College Shaped Me

Two years ago I graduated college. I woke up, put on my cute flowered dress, threw the ugly ‘recyclable’ black gown over it, and headed downstairs to take pictures with my roommates outside. It was early and I was hungover. I was about to say goodbye to a college campus full of people that I would probably never see again. I was about to say goodbye to a life full of school and knowing what was going to happen in my future. After that day, I knew my life would be completely unplanned and I wasn’t looking forward to it.

When I got to campus that dreary Sunday morning, I sat around with some friends eating bagels and staring at the fruit and yogurt parfaits in the refrigerator that I ate every single day from ‘the pub.’ BTW, when you get teary eyed saying goodbye to food, that’s when you know you have a problem.

Other than our friends, we didn’t really see many people pass by… You know, the people we were ‘friendly’ with, stalked on Facebook, saw at the bar every Wednesday through Saturday, and/or had classes with. In fact, we didn’t really see many people worth glancing at one last time during the entire ceremony. We saw random people. As in people we didn’t even know.

If you haven’t graduated yet, then you have no idea how many people you are going to see on graduation day that you’ve never seen before. It’s mind boggling to know that there were a plethora of people in your graduating class who never went to Blackout Wednesday at the local bar every week.  Like, what were they doing? I honestly thought I knew (or at least knew of) my entire graduating class, except for maybe 3/4ths of the theater school because they only hung out with each other… and maybe half of the music school because most of them spent their time locked in rooms with pianos (I only know this because I was a tour guide and I know every ‘practice room’ in the music school had pianos… Oh boy, it’s all coming back to me).

When we got in our ‘lines’ for graduation – AKA large herds of people organized by school – we got to say our last awkward ‘goodbyes’ to the people in our majorand we got to witness a bunch of professors and admin people dressed as wizards (Graduation is a time where everyone embraces Harry Potter – even me… and I hate Harry Potter).

'The Wizarding World of Graduation'

The ceremony went by pretty quickly (granted they didn’t call our names and we didn’t walk). And with a brief statement of someone asking us for money (didn’t we just pay you like 200 grand for an education?) and a quick turn of the tassel… we stood up and we were graduates. It was effed. We were entering the world of the unknown. And all I wanted to do was drink.

For the rest of that day we never saw those people we were friendly with that weren’t in our school. In fact, I didn’t even see a lot of my ‘friends.’ After the families cleared out, so did a lot of my fellow graduates. They just got up and left after they were done. How? How did they do it? My friends and I decided to stick around for a few days until the landlord ripped the keys out of our hands. We had no interest in going home. We had no interest in jump starting the real world.

What we did after graduation.

Those few days were long, short, sad, and awesome all at the same time. We drank. We cried. We laughed. We watched a college campus go from thousands upon thousands of people to maybe hundreds… to barely any. Every day more and more people left to begin their new adventures. The bars became deserted. The restaurants became empty. The roads became bare. It was the weirdest thing ever. But I still didn’t want to leave.

Yup, this is the same bar as above. An empty post-grad Moonies for all you Ithacans.

I had created 4 years of memories at that place. And by 4 years, I mean a span of time that felt like forever. Friends came and friends went. Boys came (literally and figuratively) and boys went. I made mistakes. Boy, did I made mistakes. But those mistakes are what shaped me into the person I am today. Break ups with friends, boyfriends, and boys who were never really my boyfriends… Cheating… Lying… Crying… Drinking far too much to the point where I missed a fire drill at 2am because I was passed out in a pool of my own throw up… Setting the fire alarm off at 10am on my school’s first ‘snow day’ in, like, 14 years because I put a bagel in the microwave for 10 minutes (yes, that was me)… Making my dad drive 6 hours to pick me up from school to go home for 2 nights and then drive 6 hours back because I missed my friends from home freshman year… Going after an ex (who broke up with me via text for another girl when I was locked out of my car in a Starbucks parking lot) because I couldn’t handle someone not wanting me… Getting in an Escalade with random men when ‘studying abroad’ in LA (we could have died, nbd). And finally, breaking up with my (current) boyfriend (who I got back together with, like, right after) because I was freaking out about what was to come after college. I didn’t want to retire crazy, single, young, college Sam… But little did I know, she was already gone – and gone for good reason.

Peace out, youth.

I grew up. And if it wasn’t for those 4 amazing years I spent at Ithaca College, I wouldn’t be writing this article you are reading now. I wouldn’t be able to give you advice. I would never have started this website. I wouldn’t have a job. I wouldn’t have my amazing friends. I wouldn’t have the memories. It wasn’t the classes I took that shaped me… It was the dorms. The dining hall. The roommates (good and bad). The ex-boyfriends. The hookups. The hangovers. They boys-who-texted-at-2am. The boys who didn’t text at all. The friends. The ex-friends. The parties. The bars. The mistakes. They all shaped me into the person I am today, and I have to admit – she’s not so bad.

So don’t be sad college is over. Smile because it happened. You might be 4 years older, but you’re 100 years wiser. And life after college… it’s not so bad.

Really... It's not.

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

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