I’ve Graduated, Now What?

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

— Little Boxes, Malvina Reynlods

It has barely been 10 days since I walked, but school already feels like it was ages ago.

Thankfully, I didn’t trip.

Graduation day was very rainy, but that didn’t stop us. I met up with my mom and my siblings for a brief breakfast, and was off to mingle with the soon to be graduates as we all lined up in alphabetical order. I got caught up in the pictures and the hugs and the random gibberish squeals of joy. There was so much support for one another. Instead of the “what are you doing next?” questions we had all been pestered with for the past term, we hugged and cried and spoke of how proud we were of each other.

Finishing is such a feat. As we walked in, I just thought about how many times I had wanted to drop, but didn’t because someone was always around to pull me back in and remind me to keep pushing. I wouldn’t be where I am without such amazing friends and family. I was happy to clap and shout for my fellow graduates. They did it! We all did it! What was more exciting though, was walking out of ceremony into a tunnel lined with faculty and staff who have taught and supported us over the past four years. I was ecstatic to see them be so excited for us. They believe in us, now more than ever before.

olaf in the summer

The days following graduation have felt like the first day of spring break, on repeat. That feeling of realizing “wow, I have a whole day” and you aren’t sure exactly what to do with it because you’re used to having every minute of every hour planned because school is all-consuming. So naturally, I slept and watched a lot of Netflix.

I’ve spent so much time and energy musing over graduation, obsessing and trying to make sense of it, and now that it’s done it’s like I don’t know what is left to do. But that’s wrong. There’s always something to do, I just need to go and do it.

I should be seeking a job, sprucing up my resume and trying to stabilize my life, however I feel inclined to just breathe and savor the moment. The pressure to follow suit as my peers is real, but I’m uncertain. What happens then? I find a job, a nice place to live, I get a cat and a dog and adopt a kid and then that’s it? Malvina Reynold’s little tune haunts my mind. I don’t want to be a little box filled with ticky tacky. My feet are itching to move, my mind is begging to be still, and my heart is telling me not yet.

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It’s a different kind of stress than I’ve experienced before, because I’m not obligated to do anything in particular, just whatever I impose on myself. I have so many options, and so many different ways I could go, yet I’ve never been great at just picking one thing. My parents keep asking me what my plan is, but I only know what’s going on until August. September flips to a blank page.

They just want to know that I’ve thought things through, and that I’m doing it right, whatever “it” is.

Before settling down, I want to figure out the “it”. I want to cross off things on my bucket (or as I prefer to call it, my Fuck It! List). I want to travel to 30+ countries (I have been to 11 thus far). I want to record a Christmas album. I want to live in another country for at least a year. I want to get a tattoo of a heart on my shoulder and a sunflower at the base of my neck. I want to write a musical. I want to sky-dive. I want to be the voice of the first Latina Disney Princess (Princess Sofia doesn’t count, I mean a movie and everything!).

Maybe these things will help me figure out the “it”, maybe they won’t. I don’t know if all of those things will be possible, but I want to give it a try at least. My parents fear that if I go though, that I won’t be able to sustain myself, or that I’ll get so lost I’ll never come home, or that my education would have been a waste. “All for what?”

I do not feel taking my time is throwing away my education. I truly value all four years at North Central, and have taken to heart many lessons and I am a better person for it. Many people have told me the point of going to school is to get a job and have a good life, however I find it’s more than just “job prep”.  NC has taught me to be curious, and to have the motivation to dig deeper.t NC has given me the skills and the tools to go after my dreams and lead my best life.

Well, I don’t have the answers, and that’s okay. I’m not one to sit on my hands. Despite the pressure to just find a job and do, I’m going to take my time to explore everything I have dreamed and hopefully cross some things off my bucket list. The possibilities are truly endless. I am optimistic about the future, whatever it may be.

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