Go to a house party and look around a room of people you only kind-of sort-of know.
Take stock that most of the people you’ve grown close to over the years of your college career have moved onward. Realize that now some are married, have babies, and jobs that support their happy-hour binges and Anthropologie obsessions. Feel strangely out of place in what you used to consider your element. Walk into the only bedroom with a working bathroom to find a group of strangers getting high on the carpet. Wonder why you’re even here and how you were able to drink a whole six pack yourself when four years ago you were stumbling after half a wine cooler. Feel confused and leave.Float through your classes with a mix of mild determination and the overwhelming urge to scream, “FUCK IT,” and walk out with your middle fingers in the air. Repress the desire to throw your degree to the wind because you’ll realize just how powerful college’s hold on your life has been. How it has repressed some parts of you that used to love what you were studying. Remind yourself that soon the all-nighters studying and twenty page term papers on feminism are almost behind you. Cry in relief, but also cry in panic.
Walk around campus and pick apart closely the memories you have made. Stroll past your freshman dorm and nostalgically touch the bush you were caught peeing behind because you had never heard of an Irish car-bomb before, so you decided to try eight. Walk past the places you went to your first kegger, your first altercation with a drunken friend, and past the diner where you would eat fries at 3 am with your friends after a midnight movie. Recall the place you lost your virginity and how at the time it felt like the earth had stopped around you and you shook for the rest of night because for the first time you had felt like you had left childhood behind you.
Contemplate and compare your present self to the past one. Look back at pictures from four years ago. Notice how different you look. How your cheeks have hollowed or ballooned and how somewhere along the way you lost your favorite hat you used to wear in every picture. See how your eyes don’t seem as bright anymore, but somehow so much more happy. Acknowledge how you have evolved into the person your experiences helped mold you into. Notice how the people you’re beaming next to are just faint ghosts of friendships you once thought would never end. Be thankful that they did.
Take stock of the things you own. All the sweaters and pens and empty wine bottles you kept because they had neat designs on them. Wonder how it would feel to smash them on graduation day. Wonder how you would feel if you no longer owned them, and whether or not they could ever fit into the NYC apartment you always dreamed you would live in. Realize that you don’t really care either way.
Truly ask yourself what it means to be a fully realized adult. Ask yourself if you know how to balance a check-book, or shop around for health insurance. Ask yourself if you’re willing to settle for a job that will pay the bills, or the job that will feel fulfilled. Look at online job applications. Apply, and then cry, and then apply some more.
Check your calendar, then check it again. Realize that, “the time of your life,” is slowly drawing to a close. Remind yourself that you’re actually just getting starting. Order your cap and gown, chase shots with glasses of wine, hold your friends close, feel haunted and terrified at all times; feel ecstatic at others. Know that now you know more than you did before. Know that you’re not about to peak, but about to sucker-punch life in the face. Or, at least, hold on to the hope that you will make good on all the promises you made to yourself as that freshman shivering in your first collegiate lecture.