It’s that time in the semester when people around you have started to talk about the end of the semester. They do this knowing full well it is only the middle of the semester but are so satisfied with themselves as to feel comfortable with the shrinking span of available time in which to polish up. You are allowed to roll your eyes at these people because these people are jerks.
But, thar she blows and here it comes. Sorry.
Like many second-semester seniors, I am gearing up to ship out; trying to finish my classes on a strong note while the buzz of graduation and all that will come (and fall away) with it builds loudly in my ear.
In high school I had not considered Mills. As a Berkeley native, “elsewhere” was my top criterion when considering my next step but I eventually transferred here to finish my BA after I felt satisfied that I had contributed all I could to the fields of waiting tables and making espresso. At the time I had no plans to work for the paper, or spend any more time on campus than was absolutely necessary…
I have been the News Editor for The Campanil for one year, hardly a long tenure, but enough to grow begrudgingly attached to the office, to the process, to the people. Who is this person now? I hardly recognize myself.
Until recently, I could not picture myself graduating college. Not from shortcomings of my own, though of course there are many. It seems that I have long had some resistance to finishing a thing. The final flourish was unshaped, unacknowledged, in my mind; I simply hadn’t considered it. When a thing is finished it is cast; something you’re still working on has a healthy space for improvement.
As I look down the barrel of the last weeks of my undergraduate career, I see some traits of that 18-year-old who left as soon as she could. I have a job lined up, a pretty good one, that will take me out of state indefinitely. The distance is not the end goal this time but a welcome side-effect of a good, if unexpected, opportunity.
I think I never considered completing my BA because I had this idea that to graduate is to have achieved my ideal form. As graduation looms, I have begun to consciously feel the panic that has surely been building since I first stepped foot on Toyon Meadow. I am nowhere near the image of myself I thought I would have to be in order to not be supremely screwed in whatever I imagined the “real world” to be.
That person obviously does not exist. Acknowledging this late at night triggers a visceral unease, even when I understand I don’t really need this person to exist. In two months, nearly every aspect of my life will look different; it will smell different, it will sound different, the people around me will be different, the only constant will be myself; as always and forever, I am stuck with me, fully cooked or not.