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You always remember your first time: This is it

Laura Wilson
By Laura Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
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When I was 18, I stood in front of my graduating class drunk, and I delivered a speech about how I didn't know what I was going to do with my life and I hoped I never would. I voiced all the requisite clichés and rattled on about paths and choices. I'd probably seen one too many teen movies, but I wholeheartedly believed every word I was saying. Years later, I still do.

Classes are almost over for the semester; in fact, odds are that as you're reading this, I'm already done with classes forever. Sure, I have a few papers left to turn in, but for the first time, I don't have to come back to school ever again. I'll never have to sit through another boring lecture, nor will I have to stay up late finishing a paper. Like the song says, "school's out forever."

It's hard to imagine life without homework, but it's even harder to figure out who I am if I'm not a student. For more years than I care to admit, school is what I've done. How do I know how I'm doing if no one is grading me? The real world doesn't give "A's" for effort, does it? How will I know that I'm better than everyone else if there isn't an arbitrary rubric telling me so?

Just in case it isn't clear, I'm pretty terrified. Everyone I encounter tells me that I should be excited about my upcoming commencement, and I want to respond by kicking them all in the shins. I know that this is just the beginning of the journey, and the first step is always the hardest and all the rest of that Hallmark spoon-fed garbage, but there is no catchphrase that can make me feel like graduating isn't the end of something really wonderful.

For my fellow graduates, I wish you all nothing but the best in this world, even if chances are that if we ever actually met I probably didn't like you and/or didn't talk to you. Sorry. If you're looking at me for some sort of insight or advice about the real world, you probably shouldn't be. Sorry. It seems like all I've really learned in college is that I'll never know everything about anything. All of my trials and tribulations have led me to believe that this whole experience has to be about more than I ever thought it was. It's easy to get caught up in the trivialities of the day to day when everything seems to boil down to grades and letters of recommendation, but I'm starting to see that none of that really matters.

What does matter, and here is where I attempt some sort of insight, are the memories made when no one was looking. To be honest, I can't remember a single thing I learned in any of my traditions and cultures classes, but I'll always remember the first night I spent in the dorms without a roommate and the first time I had my heart broken by a boy I didn't really like. I'll remember falling in love, but I won't remember getting a "C" on a paper. I wish someone had told me that grade point averages don't matter in the real world.

I know that college isn't the be-all-end-all of my existence, but seriously, it has been the greatest adventure I've ever been on.

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