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You did it! You passed all those horrendous gen-ed classes. You were able to charm that Biodiversity professor into a B. You took Yoga for your fitness course, becoming a pretzel covered in sweat and basted in tears. And you still think your short stories were better than anyone else’s in that sophomore year Creative Writing course. And you aced all those major requirements. You learned to do research. You mastered the jargon. You went down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia only to find yourself looking up where the cast of So Weird ended up instead of the legality of the Patriot Act. And now, dressed in that gown that makes you feel like you went to Hogwarts instead of the state school you actually went to, you are crossing the stage. The lights are bright. You can’t see the crowd, but you can hear them. Your parents’ pride booming, your grandparents clapping their arthritic claws together, and your lover woohooing like you’re about to do a striptease. It’s here you’ll have the most riveting and terrifying thoughts of your college career.

1. What if I trip? Well, I sincerely hope not. To be honest, no one tripped at my graduation. Except the guy tripping balls, but he was high the entire four years of college. I’m sure he’s fine now. Don’t worry. You mastered stumbling back to your dorm drunk right by campus police. You’ll be fine. Remember to wear something under that robe though. Just in case.

2. What if I peaked? This is even worse if you went to a small school. You could have been the big fish. You were Editor-in-Chief of the paper, Student Government Secretary, and the best non-Spanish speaking tequila shooter. On the other side of that stage, to the left of the podium, you’ll become another 20 something with a B.A. looking for a job. Luckily for you, all those things you did were great resume boosters. Except the shots of tequila. But maybe your future office is really into happy hour?

3. The economy sucks! Yes, it does. But the trick is not to let it psych you out. Put crystals out on a full moon if you have to. Rub down some rosary beads. Go sit in that pretzel position you learned in yoga. You just need to tailor that resume, craft a smart and personal cover letter, and bring that smile that got you so much tail. Except now it gets you a paycheck. And that paycheck can get you tail if you get too lonely.

4. I’m a better person now, right? You’re definitely smarter. I don’t mean to patronize you, really. You may not remember every book you read for Modern American Lit or even how to solve for X, but you experienced. You lived. You treaded the waters of personal relationships, you discovered new likes, attempted to join a gym, and probably even saw a play or two. You can’t quantify how much better you are now than you were four years ago. But you will notice how much you appreciate a certain type of person now. How much you love sharing ideas. And even how much you love being quiet as you listen to someone speak.

5. I f***ing did it! Yes, you did! You don’t just walk across that stage. You run across, twerk across, cartwheel across. Throw that cap like an Ancient Greek Olympian tosses a discus. You soar as high as you want today, Icarus. You graduated college! You joined the 33 percent of Americans who have a Bachelor’s degree. And no matter what happens from here, you did something amazing. You met some fantastic people. You watched a TED talk. You even hooked up with that really cute guy from yoga. You’ll be awesome.

Are you ready for graduation?

Featured photo credit: NazarethCollege via photopin cc