There’s a very good book (that’s now a movie, but was once just a book) called This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper. The book is an incredibly well done coming of age tale for 30-somethings, and essentially confirms that “not knowing how to be an adult” is a profitable idea well past age 22. Anyway, the youngest brother of the family, Phillip, spends most of the family and friend reunion time lying wildly about what he’s been up to. He runs companies in DC, opens hotels in Southeast Asia, and says it with a manner so convincing that it might as well be what he’s doing. He’s the wild and crazy brother younger brother who’s never had to get his act together, so of course that’s what he’s doing.
You’re gonna spend this semester going to family functions, school-wide functions, and alcohol baths posing as functions. At all of these, you’ll be asked (and will ask other people, because there are only about 5 things to talk about to any given person) what you’re getting up to after graduation. There’s a lot of pressure around the job stuff, so try and have fun with it. Before I had a job, I’d generally tell people that I was probably gonna eat eggs for breakfast 3-4 times a week. Obviously, this was a hopeful, gross overestimate.
If you do have an awesome job that you’re excited about, be excited about it. This may sound like common sense, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that — since the impending graduate/early post-college narrative is all about not having your shit together, it indirectly suggests that having your life together (be it a stable relationship, or a job that you actually wanted) is somehow incorrect.
Around graduation time, I remember one of my friends — who was about to start a very good/cool job — going to extreme lengths to not reveal what he was doing. Part of this had to do with the fact that his general demeanor is an a entry level course in basic humility (he’s not the type of kid who needs 100 likes on Facebook to feel validated by his achievements), but I think some of it had to do with alienation fear — that if you weren’t having a hard time adjusting, you were some sort of unattractive outlier.
This is unfortunate, and is probably true no matter your life stage. (If you’re in a struggling writers group and one of the writers sells her screenplay for six figures, she’ll no longer fit in with the group aesthetic.) I guess as a society, we should try? and get better at this.
Start building your future mentally, even if you have no idea what it’s gonna look like. This’ll get you excited for wherever you’re going, and will help initiate juicy personal speculation:
If you’re heading back to your hometown, will you get back together with your ex? Or perhaps that girl you always had a thing for in high school, but never made a move because you weren’t cool enough back then? It’s all anyone’s guess.
There are a lot of events with free food. Make sure to center most of your days around them. If there’s cheese, learn as much as you can. And rave about the honey goat.
You are likely at your alcohol consumption zenith. I don’t like this point as much as the other points because it implies subtle pressure — you need to be drinking a ton, otherwise you’re wrong! follow the heard and question nothing! — but if you’re a senior in college, you should know enough to realize that things on the internet both apply to you entirely, and don’t apply to you whatsoever.
The point I’m trying to make here is that however you’re gorging your liver, don’t worry too much. Unless your a legit alcoholic, it’ll be all but impossible to maintain this pace in the years to come.
I’m approaching 3 years out of school. From what I’ve seen, here’s a (very generalized) progression:
- First Year: Collegiate pace on weekends, but will slowly start ceding to (and loving) nights in.
- Second Year: Drinking super heavily is increasingly a terrible waste of time and money. You still do it on a somewhat frequent basis, but your favorite part is complaining loudly after the fact.
- Third Year: Water.
There’s this pressure to end college with a bang; to be crazy, to do crazy. I’d argue against that, in the sense that the craziness is much more powerful during freshman year — your cast of characters aren’t as well developed yet, so you need outrageous plot-lines and groundbreaking special effects to mask the fact that you don’t yet know how Corey really feels about the whole thing.
Freshman year and sophomore year crazy lets you bond with your peers, as the wild events bring you closer together by nature. Senior year crazy will always be an attempt to match and/or exceed underclassmen crazy, which will only lead to unrealistic expectations and (likely) disappointment. Focus more on the people rather than the event. This way, what should be a run-of-the-mill dinner can turn into something that’ll weirdly stick with you.
Remember freshman year, when you chose going to the party with friend x instead of friend y? Remember how that experience bonded you with friend x for the next four years, while you slowly drifted apart from friend y? How, by spring semester junior year, you started pretending like you and friend y didn’t know each other?
If there’s still something there, go up to that person and start a convo (remember the drinking zenith) about how you easily could’ve been best friends in college. This’ll plant a nice little networking seed, and you guys can now do business together in 9-12 years.
If you’re home during the afternoon and see that The Titanic, The Departed, Gangs Of New York, or any other obscenely long movie starring Leonardo DiCpario is on television, watch it.
Never again will you be able to spend an afternoon watching a four hour movie and not completely hate yourself.
Remember when you were a freshman, and that senior in your fraternity said the most profound thing you’d ever heard? Remember when you became senior, and realized the person who said that is now currently writing an internet list about college, and clearly didn’t really know what they were talking about?
Be that person for a freshman. Watch their face as they soak in your Ghandi-esque advice. Cluelessness masked as guidance can go a long way.
If you can, go on some sort of trip that you probably shouldn’t go on. When I was a senior, myself and 13 other people rented an RV and drove down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We had a ton of fun, but it was a horrible idea.
This might not be as good a play in 2015 (if you do something remotely dumb, and if the lethal combo of voyeurism and content capitalism can frame any sort of story around it, you might end up viral), but then this turns into a conversation about the technology dystopia were about to enter. Which is somewhere this article doesn’t need to go right now. If you couldn’t tell, I just watched Black Mirror.
You probably have a lot of inside jokes with your roommates/core group of friends — song lyrics, quotes from friends, and catch-phrases that make zero sense outside the confines of your friend group.
Go crazy with these for the next few months, because once you graduate your locus of friendship will never be as tight. Post college friendship is more predicated on the Hapsburg Empire model than the unified Bismarck model that college is all about. Each certainly has its own benefits, but never again will you be able to yell that Eh-eh-o eh-o part from Bastille’s Pompeii and soak in such zealous friend group resonance.
Something short and generic about things being okay if you don’t have it all figured out, making the most of the moment because it’ll be gone before you know it, and looking forward to what the future has to offer.
All of that. And a powerful conclusion, because this is a (pretty cool) period of your life.