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Duke, Life Musings

Graduation (and life on the other side)

It seems like this is the week for goodbyes, the week for senior farewell columns, the week for reflection, the real last week of my undergraduate career.

And with just three days until LDOC and 20 until graduation, time seems to be zooming by and the impending “real world” looming ever closer.

A month ago, I started applying to full-time jobs in the Washington, DC area. Three weeks ago, I emailed car dealerships to figure out price quotes on a new car and financing options. Two weeks ago, I visited northern Virginia to go apartment hunting after hours of searching on padmapper.com and apartmentratings.com. Last week, I signed a one-year housing contract to live in a two-bedroom apartment in Fairfax with a sorority sister and my boyfriend. This week, I confirmed the spelling of the name that is going to appear on my Journalism certificate.

By this time next week, I’ll have finished taking classes (perhaps for life) and will have had my last sorority formal, my last LDOC concert, my last 21st birthday celebration on Duke’s campus, and my last ride on the C-1 bus. And six months down the road, I will have followed my passion for journalism and social media, negotiated for and bought my first car, moved within minutes of the city I have wanted to live in since I was 10, and voted in my first Presidential election.

And you know what? Things feel.. normal.

I don’t feel the usual emotions that come with such a big change–the anxiety, the excitement, the fear, the giddiness, the gravity of the situation. Instead, I feel the same as I did a month ago, maybe even calmer.

Maybe it’s that the whole thing hasn’t hit me yet, that I can’t completely wrap around my head the idea that I’m moving out of Durham in less than a month. Maybe it’s that I’m so overwhelmed with the whole job application process, the monotony of my daily schedule, and the number of hours that I put into socializing at the library that I’ve become somewhat numb.

What I prefer to think of it as, however, is that I have no fear, no regrets, and no eager desire to move on because I’m living life in the present. I’m taking each day as it comes, no more, no less. I no longer think about mistakes in the past or the next big thing in the future. I stay grounded in the now and what is immediately in front of me, and I’m loving every minute of it.

The fact that I’ll soon be buying a one-way ticket from California to Virginia doesn’t phase me or frighten me. The fact that I’ll be moving to a foreign city with many of my closest friends still at Duke or in the UC system doesn’t make me sad.

Why? Because I know it’s not the end.

Graduation is not the end, not by any means. It is a beginning, a new chapter in the book we call “life.”

It is a time to embrace responsibility, a time to live out our youth, a time to experience a new environment, and a time to experiment without lasting consequence. It is a time to try something we’ve always wanted to, a time to pursue a lifelong passion, and a time to make new friends while remembering old ones.

College is not the only time for development, growth, and self-discovery, and graduation is by no means an end to all of this. Life is an ongoing process, and we are all merely works in progress, and entering the “real world” is just that next step.

So seniors, here’s to the next three days of class and the last couple weeks of school. There’s no better time than now, and there’s no better way to celebrate that next chapter than with good food, good company, and good laughs.

So watch out world — hope you’re ready for the class of 2012, because we’re sure as heck ready for you.

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