I’ve been thinking a lot about endings lately. Mostly because graduation is approaching, but also because I’m trying to figure out how to “end” my thesis. And also, because I have almost finished all of the seasons of “The Office“ and I’m wondering what I will do after I’ve watched them all. But, unlike “The Office,“ I can’t replay college. College is coming to a real end for me, and the graduating class of 2018.
Graduations are weird. They are extremely boring to attend. I’ve attended graduation ceremonies at UC Berkeley, USC, Scripps College, and Pitzer College. All of them were boring. All of them were too long. I was on my phone for parts of all of them. But I went because people I loved were graduating. I went because I wanted to celebrate those people. Now I feel bad because I am the one who is graduating and the people I love will wake up early on the Saturday before Mother’s Day to sit in the hot sun. For one moment, the people I love will stop scrolling through their phones to clap a little louder, maybe even yell my name, and watch as I awkwardly walk across a stage to receive a piece of paper that confirms I have received a bachelor’s of arts degree from Mills College. This is not to say our graduation speakers will not give engaging, thoughtful, moving speeches (shout out to Sarah O’Neal, my dear friend and our senior speaker who is going to kill it) but just that, by definition, graduation ceremonies are sort of dull for those who are not graduating.
Even though graduations are boring I think they are important. One time someone told me graduation ceremonies were just “pageantry.” And maybe that’s true. But I think acknowledging the ends of big experiences is important, even if they are in the form of a ceremony on a Saturday morning. Graduation has me reflecting on my time at Mills. I feel sappy. I feel nostalgic. I feel lucky to buy bad iced coffee from the Tea Shop. But seriously, I feel lucky that I can sit at a table in the library and look out the window at a stream! And redwoods! I feel lucky that many, many professors have read poems, essays, and short stories I have written and given me their generous, thoughtful feedback.
Sometimes I get annoyed when people say I am going to enter “the real world” because what does that even mean? But also, I get what they mean because in the “real world” I will be lucky if my dog agrees to listen to my creative writing. But that’s why Mills has been such a gift — because professors generously offer me their time and energy and read versions of the same exact story I have been trying to write for almost four years.
Spring on Mills campus is always glorious and magical and this spring it feels even more lovely and also sort of sad because it is my last. Mills was never my plan A but it has grown on me. It seems like a lot of people have interesting stories about how they ended up at Mills. They are usually round-about and include stories of transferring, or years off, or other big life experiences. Seriously, ask people how they ended up at Mills.
Mills, with all its faults and flaws and quirks, has filled me with so much joy and has introduced me to mentors and friends who have changed my life. I can’t imagine having classes end, taking finals, and then never returning to campus. Without graduation, I imagine the end of my college career would feel uneventful at best. But thanks to overpriced regalia, and a ceremony at 9:45 a.m. that I will probably be late to, I will get to say a proper goodbye to Mills. And I deserve that. And all of the graduates deserve that. So, I hope all of you go to graduation. Then, I hope you all try to sell your regalia to juniors who will graduate next year. And I hope you all watch every episode of “The Office.” The end.