Looking for reality after graduation

Erin Roof

I rented Reality Bites last night. It seemed like the right thing to do because I am graduating in two weeks, and I have yet to get my graduation gown, write my resum‚ or concoct a life plan. In the end, the movie just made me more depressed.

I wonder if a few months down the road I will find myself in Winona Ryder’s character’s position: chain-smoking cigarettes and lying on the couch for days, while running up a $500 phone bill pouring out my life story to a TV psychic. More likely, I will be consuming large amounts of whiskey and listening to Elliott Smith’s Either/Or album on repeat. Either way, I’ll admit it: I’m a little scared.

College has been so good to me. I have learned so much. I have forgotten even more. (Thanks, Intro to Formal Logic, for those four months I will never get back.) I have lived in some of the greatest cities in the world: London, Geneva, Cleveland. And I have made the best friends of my life. Most importantly, I have learned time management. Specifically, I have gained the skill of leaving a bar at 2:30 a.m. in the morning and still making it to that 9:15 a.m. class.

I’m not ready to close this chapter of my life. But I have no choice. When I tell people I’m graduating, they usually react as if that means I am falling off the face of the planet. Is that what real adulthood is like? After the cliff of graduation is a bottomless pit of responsibilities, priorities and, oh God, babies or something?

No thanks. I’d rather crawl back to sophomore year when I didn’t even have a job, could sleep in until noon and my fancy little FlashCard would buy me dinner every night.

My boyfriend is a junior. I looked at him yesterday morning, sleeping peacefully, and started crying. He has a year and a half left and doesn’t realize how lucky he is – he doesn’t realize the confused wreck he’ll be when he is in my position.

At the heart of this trauma is my worry I will fail. I have always been a good student. I’m even graduating magna cum laude, damn it. But I will leave Kent State with a very expensive piece of paper, not a guarantee of success. I have to do that myself. And I have no idea how. No one teaches you how to “work your way up in the business.”

I want to be a success. I want to be talented. I want to be able to pay off my student loans and still afford to eat at the same time. In short, I’m looking for a miracle.

Reality Bites did give me one good piece of advice. Ethan Hawke’s character turns to a spazzed-out, post-graduation Winona Ryder and says, “Honey, the only thing you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.”

Good thing I’ve got two months before I turn 23. Maybe, in some ways, I’m ahead of the game.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. “Then the Cadillac, it puttered back into the graveyard. And me, I got out again.” Contact her at [email protected].