Confessions of a Victim of Post-Traumatic Harvard Disorder


A week after our family members swarmed the very pavements we had trudged, scuffed, and drunkenly stumbled along for years, a week after Soledad O’Brien told us that most people are stupid and Oprah assured us that, just like Beyoncé, we all want to be validated, a week after the Sheriff of Middlesex swag-walked onto the stage and shouted in our faces that commencement had been “ADJOUUURNED,” a week after we packed up four years of our fantastically absurd lives, a week after we said goodbyes that only felt like so-longs (we’d done this for three summers, after all), a week after we hopped on flights and into trains and cars and returned to the comfort of home-cooked meals and beaming mothers, it hit me.

Damn you, nostalgia.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d been fighting it off all of senior year. I’d told my friends to shut up whenever one of them got sentimental on me. I’d avoided looking at the calendar and counting down the last few days of my happy-free-confused-and-lonely-at-the-same-time kind of life. (Tay-Tay Swift gets me, ok.) But sitting alone on my couch, with no one to shut up, and an unfulfilling zero on the imaginary countdown clock, I had to face the music—sappy-ass, Vitamin C’s “Graduation” kind of music.

It’s not fun to imagine that the place you called home for four years is going to be more than fine without you. It’s not fun to realize that all the underclassmen will forget about you until you happen to run into them at a Harvard-Yale tailgate, and they drunkenly squeal about how much they’ve missed you (liars). And it’s certainly no rager in Punta Cana to imagine a life void of the friends you could see every single day without that much effort, the very friends who are now flung across the country, even the world. You can’t even do something bro-y like sit upstairs on the couch of the Phoenix with “Get Lucky” blasting in the background as you down a beer…. Or can you…?

“Actually, while you’re at the store, could you get a six pack of Corona Lights? I will pay you back for them!” I text my mother. Because this is what my life has come to.

I mean, I know I’m still young, but I’m already a little jealous of the rising juniors and seniors back at Harvard. I mean, they have what I wish I had: a little more time to fool myself into thinking that those carefree days will never end. This makes me a little concerned for myself, though. I mean, if I’m jealous of the youngins now when I’m 22, what’s it going to be like when I’m 45, and my husband is eyeing some 20-year-old strumpet-miss in those crop tops I may have to give up in the real world (neverrr!!!)? Or when my teenage daughter with her naturally skinny body is texting her crew on a Saturday night—“Zomg, THE MOST bangin’ pool party OF the year is tonight at Johnny’s hoouuse!!”—and I’m sitting down, still fat from having birthed her, watching The Bachelorette? I can’t be jealous of my daughter.

Also, I will kill her if she talks like that.

In addition to the nostalgia, there’s also something horrifying about having absolutely nothing to do. I experienced this crisis during senior week—no papers, no assignments, no deadlines, no schedule. At Harvard, we are some Type A crazies. No matter how much we may complain about it at the time, we need to have something to do—or something due—in order to feel relevant. I knew I couldn’t handle my bum-status when, around the second day of senior week, I screamed to my roommates that I needed an itinerary. Thankfully, I’m moving to New York in exactly a week, which is, from what I can gather, a place where it is impossible to relax.

And this is what I’ve done so far in order to cope:

1. Asked the woman who watched me, as a child, draw ugly large-headed stick figures with no necks and triangular bodies to buy me Coronas.

2. Wrote this essay. Because as it happens, English is a lifestyle, not a concentration.

3. Pulled out a 550-piece puzzle and considered working it. Because being able to solve something and having a vision of the end-game right there on the box is comforting—even if it is a picture of cartoon convicts—and so not something I can do with my life right now.

4. Decided against working said puzzle because I don’t want to have to clean up 550 pieces.

5. Groupme’d, Snapchatted, Facebook-messaged, and texted the living daylights out of my friends. Also liked everyone’s graduation photos.

6. Blasted my college music playlists and danced around for a bit.

7. Looked through old email threads with friends I will probably rarely make an effort speak to again. I cackled until I realized I was making myself sadder.

8. Ate a chocolate chip cookie, wondering who will be named “Cookie Girl” by the cashier at Finale now that I’m gone. Probably no one because that was weird.

9. Sat outside and discovered exactly what is wrong with my hometown Houston. In Cambridge, there is an endless stream of commotion: some angry driver whizzing by honking his horn, some college kids singing Ke$ha at the top of their lungs, some hobo telling you that you’ve dropped your smile on the sidewalk. Even the frickin’ birds are chirping at 2 am—2 am!

But in Houston, it’s more than quiet: it’s still.

I’m too restless to stay still. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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