When reality bites

Vanessa Pralle

Exactly one year ago today I was in Australia, straddling my friend Erin in a cab, wildly swinging my arms and shouting to all alarmed bystanders in celebratory, post-21 exuberance. Or so she says. Without a worry in sight, my only dilemma one year ago was waking up for work on time, and even that concept wasn’t taken very seriously Down Under. I had the rest of junior year to spend in the luxurious apartments, plus the highly anticipated prospect of living off campus for senior year with my best friends. Things were looking good.

Fast forward one year and I, along with a vast majority of the senior class, are experiencing through what my friend Laurel dubbed, “a mid-semester crisis.” GRE, LSAT, and MCAT – oh my! As mid-semester blues encroach, I begin worrying about the biggest and most ambiguous transition of all – graduation and what I’m supposed to do with my life. When all obstacles have been conquered and barriers crossed, what is there to now look forward to? Are we just destined to disperse into unknown waters as the fresh mea…err, freshmen of the real world, destined to an existence in a confining cubicle amid the monotonous 9-5 crunch just like our parents? What about daily naps? What if my computer gets a virus? Can I still bring it to Vasey to have it fixed? Health care insurance? Don’t get me started…

Remember back to when we were little kids? Actually, even more recently, as a senior in high school, I couldn’t begin to fathom life after college. To me, each year represented a nudge up on a daunting, but highly rewarding mountain: elementary school, middle school, high school, etc. with college as the pinnacle, the greatest peak of them all. After that, I assumed you had to go back down in the opposite direction.

The opposite direction was land of “adulthood.” I entertained the notion that when one graduates at the ripe age of 21 or 22, suddenly the powers of wisdom, knowledge and higher intelligence are bestowed upon you. My misconceptions went so far as to presume that the second the diploma is passed into your sweaty palm, you’ve crossed the finish line as a bona fide adult: a magical Genie bowing his head while uttering, “Your wish is my command.” Poof! All adolescent pimples vanish once maturity emerges. Poof! I suddenly know how to do taxes and love paying bills. Poof! I can live anywhere I want because employers will be killing themselves to hire me. Poof! This is not reality, nor anything remotely related.

Last week I caught myself cautioning a group of freshmen to “enjoy college while it lasts!” Their teenage faces looked back at me with those incredulous “Duh/obviously/we know” expressions. Before I realized what a tool I must have sounded like, they’re gone, arms linked, merrily skipping down the sidewalk, discussing which Halloween ticket parties to attend. Ah, when times were only that complicated.

I think back to Alumni Weekend at Kelly’s last year, with men and women sporting nametags like kindergartener’s on a field trip, and looking about as out of place as them too. “Double scotch martini on the rocks. Twist of lime, dear. Oh, one more thing, I’d like it stirred, not shaken with a splash of lemon. Fabulous,” one classy looking gentleman with a Class of ’64 barks behind me. Some guys nudge and pound fists while downing shots as a feeble attempt at reliving “the good old days” despite the unsightly beer bellies and wrinkled extremities. Some women engage in the “WASP” dance, complete with gyrating hips and jewel-clad hands standing erect into the air, while others survey their predecessors with a cold eye as they gingerly sip whatever drinks the guys pass their way. I remember feeling fearful that one day I too would become a woman, lady, etc. and that the highlight of my week would be a visit to my alma mater or a movie.

Back to my original dilemma: like the Toys ‘R Us kid, I don’t wanna grow up, at least in theory. However, in all honesty, I am excited for the next step, although for the time being I have no idea what that will entail. I know that I don’t want to become a statistic in the “Boomerang Generation” with more than half of us going back home to mom and pops after graduation. As for now, I’m going to keep using those Wildcard dollars to buy pizza amongst other things at Pacilio’s while milking all student discounts that come my way.