when you graduate from college, everyone says, congratulations.
we’re so proud of you. congratulations. good job. congratulations.
except for the one person who told me, congratulations. and I’m sorry.
and that, I think, is the best thing anyone could have said.
you see, people keep asking how it feels.
how do I answer that?
I smile. I say, it’s exciting. I say, it’s crazy. I say, it went by so fast. I say, it doesn’t feel real yet. I smile and I nod as people talk about internships and careers and next steps. I smile and answer the four-hundred-and-fifty-sixth question about what I’m doing next year.
I don’t say, I don’t know how I feel. I don’t say, I want to go back already. I don’t say, I have no clue what I’m doing, not today not tomorrow not ever. I don’t say, please stop asking me that question.
because it feels like a lot of things, at all once, and also nothing. because it feels like all of my feeling are a jumbled mess of kite strings, flown by a child who doesn’t know how to handle the wind. because it feels like I am a child who has been handed a kite, but no one told me how to handle the wind.
how does it feel?
it feels like the split second before you jump off the swing. you’ve already shifted your weight forward, un-stuck your bare skin from the rubber seat. you’ve pulled your arms out from behind the chains. peak of the arc, the height of your playground parabola. and then, in one instant, there is both a fear-filled longing to stay on that swing and a rush of adrenaline that fills your veins in preparation for the flying. it feels like that, terror and thrill mingling in your mouth and leaving a bittersweet taste on your tongue.
the short answer, I guess, is that it’s complicated.
I keep hoping I can sort it out, maybe I can untangle it all. maybe, I can work out these feelings, pull apart the happy from the sad and figure them both out.
but I can’t, because it feels both happy and sad.
this graduation thing, this next-stage thing, this life-changing thing. it’s rough. and it’s hard and it’s good and it is growing and hurting and mourning and creating.
congratulations. and I’m sorry.