Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Graduation On The Horizon, Maturity in The Distance

So (barring any major bureaucratic screw-ups or emotional breakdowns) I am graduating from college in a month. This is supposed to be an exciting time, full of reflection and wisdom.

Do you know what I keep thinking?

I am not tall enough to be graduating from college.

Since I was a freshman, seniors have always seemed so together, so old, so . tall. And now we’re here – I am the senior – and I feel scattered, young – and short.

Feeling short and semi-infantile, though I am 5-foot-7ish and into my 20s is, I know, a thinly veiled psychological expression of my feelings of inadequacy blah blah blah – I took introduction to psychology too.

I may be years away from my mid-life crisis (although I am already planning it) but it’s never too early for a good productive neurosis.

The early 20s are a bizarre age. We still don’t get any respect from ticket agents at airports but at least they will call us “ma’am” and “sir” while they ignore us. People in their early 20s make major life decisions. They have babies, start businesses and assume responsibilities. Or they move back in with their parents and get caught up on “A-Team” reruns. These are years marked by constant tension between being a child and a grown-up.

There is an element of the surreal to a lot of my interactions right now. People I have known for four years are going to be teaching high school next year, moving to Japan, “consulting.” That guy doing a keg stand at your party? In two months he’ll be making major investment decisions for Goldman Sachs. Kind of makes you think.

Over Easter break I went home only to discover that now, getting caught up on local gossip means discussing peoples’ vows and bridesmaid dresses. I ran into a girl I graduated with, Kelly Richards, at a bar over the weekend. I hadn’t seen her in a year and a half, but I had heard that she had gotten married, and that her baby was about a month old.

She was pretty hammered, and she gave me a huge hug and told me that this was the first time she had been out since she’d gotten married a year ago. “Don’t my breasts look great?” she yelled over the noise of the bar, pointing to her chest, which was displayed in a low-cut shirt, “I’m nursing!”

I wasn’t really sure what to say – it was kind of a strange moment.

So Kelly Richards is married. I add her to the list in my mind: Chad Lemons, Cherie Uchtmann, Jessica Hess, Leslie Sullivan. I freak out about this to my mother, who tells me to get over it, reminds me that I am 23, that she met my father when he was 23. This does not help.

When I got back to Georgetown on Tuesday I cleaned my room. For some reason, every time I find out that someone else from my high school has made a major life decision I am struck by a compulsive urge to stack things in neat piles and fold sweaters. Analyze that.

Will graduation snap us into adulthood? Other societies have defined cultural ceremonies to mark the transition, elaborate celebrations that draw clear boundaries between levels of experience. But in the United States, the line is a bit hazier. Are you an adult at 18? 21? 25? When you buy your first blender? Couch? Car?

In the American culture of the excruciatingly prolonged childhood, graduation from college is one ritual that marks some sort of transition into adulthood. But is it enough?

Maybe there is a secret meeting or some sort of initiation rite that we’ll perform in May led by the Jesuits involving fire and chanting and body paint. Maybe the hypnotic clicking of heels across the graduation stage on Copley will fire some new afore-unknown “adult” part of the brain. We will return to our apartments the next morning exhausted yet strangely eager to pay bills on time, discuss 401k plans and start to wear sensible shoes.

I’m waiting. My room is still uber-scattered. I forget things. I cannot decide what to have for lunch. I organize my life in color-coded planners that I promptly misplace and my shoes are not sensible. At the same time, roughly half of the members of my high school graduating class are already hitched and well on their way to contributing to the world’s population explosion.

Yet every so often, out of the corner of my eye, I will catch a glimpse of someone I have known for four years and I’ll think how old we’ve gotten. Where did the time go?

The last month of senior year looks to be a big mess of nostalgia and impatience, but the hardest thing may be the realization that it’s time to go.

Ramble On appears regularly in The Hoya.

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