It feels pretty surreal that I'm done. I'm home now, and my job (not related to my major, but I'll be working on that) doesn't start for a week or two, so I'm unpacking, rearranging, and cleaning my room as I go. It hasn't completely hit me yet that I'm in the real world now. I'm done. It will probably hit home more once I get a job pertaining to my major.
The really weird feelings were when I was walking around the day before graduation, turning in my post office key, turning in my student ID, doing exit counseling for my student loans, etc... I've had my key and ID for four years... Giving them back felt...weird. I've always been used to having them, and then suddenly not...it almost felt like I'd done something bad.
Also when walking around, I could picture different things that have happened over the four years I have spent there, happening in the places I was walking through. It was like there was this sudden flood of memories going through my mind. I didn't expect it, and it kind of blew me away.
I gave a tour here as a Battler Guide.
I passed out on the way to class and almost gave Vee and Dr. Unger heart attacks over there.
I worked countless hours at Jazzman's, the Cave, and the cafeteria. I worked at Jazzman's back when it was where the Cave is now. Back when so-and-so and so-and-so worked there...none of them are there anymore.
I pulled an all-nighter writing a paper in there and unexpectedly caught up with an old friend...then more recently pulled other all-nighters studying for tests and writing other papers with Zack.
Vee and Ash and I sat around this fountain and talked about life....three years ago. We probably at some point talked about this day.
I lived in Priestley for the first 2 1/2 years. I lived with some of the best people I know. I made some of the best friends I will ever have there.
I spent my freshmen year holed up like a hermit, studying my life away and too intimidated to come out and really get to know some of the girls in my suite. Those same girls would go on to become my best friends over the next three years.
Junior year I had my dream. I had my first horse. I spent countless weekends with him and got away from the stress of school. I passed that class that I had to retake. I managed my time better. I made new friends. I gave it another go with that relationship. It didn't work out as I'd hoped. I learned another hard lesson - sometimes no matter how much you want something to work out, it just isn't meant to. But it opened up doors to get to know other people. I opened my heart to someone else...and got hurt. I spent all summer trying, failing, and trying again to get over it.
Senior year I experienced living with a roommate again for the first time since freshmen year. I had an even crazier schedule than before. I learned that being around someone you formerly (ok- still) had feelings for kind of sucks. I eventually also learned that that can lead to the breakdown of what little friendship is left after that situation. I ended up losing another friend and decided I was done with the dating game for a while. I threw myself into my classes and tried not to think about it. I eventually got very skilled at that game and succeeded very well.
I came back for second semester with a new outlook. That schedule was even crazier than before, though it didn't seem like it until all the exams for all my classes started happening at once. In the midst of everything, I met a guy. Well, didn't "meet" a guy. I'd met him before and just never got to know him. We talked, we hung out, we studied together, and eventually we started dating. I'd never met anyone quite like him. He amazed me at every turn.
The last month of the semester left me feeling like I just wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere and not come out. Zack was the only one keeping me sane. Then, just like that, after powering through it all....I was done. My grades were less than what I'd hoped, but I passed. I was done.
Baccalaureate was interesting. We all wore our tassels on the wrong side because no one corrected us, and none of us seemed to be able to remember which side it was supposed to go on. -_- The speaker was funny but rambled to the point that no one could really remember what his point was supposed to be in the first place. But through it all, we all just looked at each other - all 22 of us that showed up for baccalaureate - with the same expression of awe and wonder that we'd made it to this point. We were done.
Graduation was an even more amazing feeling. We'd only ever dreamed of this event, but here we were, living it. Among the chaos of organizing everyone, following instructions (there was no practice for us), and getting out there in front of all of our families and professors, all anyone could feel was happiness. We were done.
Zack and my family met me outside the gym and a slew of pictures ensued. My grandpa was crying. The night before, I was crying as it hit me that my grandma wouldn't be here. Every time I'd ever pictured that day, I had pictured her there. It made me think of all the things she will miss, and yes, I cried. I wish she could have been there for my college graduation. I wish she could be at my wedding, and all the other milestones yet to come. I wish I could still share my thoughts with her and hear her replies, and I wish she could meet Zack, because I know she would love him. But I know she was watching from somewhere on Saturday. She's always watching, and that provides some comfort.
But after all this, all of this hard work and dedication, happiness and heartbreak, achievements and disappointments, and life lessons, I've come out of it a better person. I've learned more about myself as a person and what I can do when I really put my mind to it. I've learned my strengths and weaknesses. I'm not afraid of a little hard work. In fact, I expect to have to do hard work. I have a degree I can do anything with. And I don't have a job to do with my major yet, but I know I can get one.
All in all - I'm a big girl now. Things aren't certain in my life, but I've got this. And I'm happy with who I am and confident in what I can do, so really, things aren't all that bad. :)