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The Summer After Graduation: The Five Stages of Real-Life Grief

College is a wonderful time. In fact, you will never ever have as much fun for the rest of your life. Ever. And the moment that you arrive home after commencement, this realization hits you harder than Anthony Battle hits offensive linemen. But fear not current seniors (and everyone else, because it all ends so quickly!), for I have emerged from the other side of post-college mourning, and am here to share my experiences, so that when the time comes YOU will be prepared!

STAGE 1: Denial

Wow. What a great experience college was. I can’t wait to get back home and see my family. Then I can pop into the Deuce and see all…my…friends…ANYWAY, sure is great that this diploma will open a bunch of doors for me.

Bad news, buckaroos. The moment you walk out of Ryan Field, you are a real person. That means no more day drinking, or cutting class, or randomly hooking up with hot freshman girls by telling them you were the lead in Waa-Mu last year! Don’t lie to yourself! College is OVER. There is no going back. Sure, there’s grad school, but that’s for people with real, marketable majors. YOU majored in theater. It’s time to accept that come September, you won’t get to choose between taking Tap or Scenic Design. And the sooner you accept that you won’t be back in E-town in the fall, the sooner you will get to…

STAGE 2: Anger

Sure glad this diploma is so fucking useful. My advisor sure steered me right when he suggested I major in Art History. What a dick! Northwestern has robbed me of more money than I am likely to make in the next 10 years of my life, for NOTHING!

I know you’re angry. But, just like puking after eight rounds of Beer Pong on a Tuesday night, it’s best to get it all out of your system now. Sure, you are now realizing that you may have just wasted four-years of your life. Years that you could have spent discovering a cure for Cancer, inventing a number. BUT, think of it this way: you didn’t go to college to learn. You went to gain valuable social skills that your 12 years in a private all-male catholic high school failed to instill in your pathetically awkward brain. I promise, the anger will fade the moment you realize that you can now talk to female co-workers without sweating through your standard White button down shirts. Now, you are ready for...

STAGE 3: Bargaining

Maybe if I start taking night classes at the learning Annex, it will be like I am back in college! Hey, if I get a good job, I can pay to visit NU and see all my friends! If I give you more money, can I audit Human Sex again? Please?!

Like Morty does with helping a girl reach orgasm, I will make this really quick. You will quickly realize none of these are rational thoughts. You can’t AFFORD to go back to school. Your parents are not going to back you anymore. Get a job, and start paying off those loans.

STAGE 4: Depression

What’s the point. I hate my job. I hate my work-friends. I hate my studio apartment. I hate everything. I will never be happy again.

I promise you, you will be depressed after college. It happens. Usually, it hits about the same time all your younger friends are leaving for the Fall semester. You can no longer go on Facebook, because all of your friends are making plans to hit up The Keg. You look at your phone, and see that nobody is texting you while they are in class. This is the hardest stage to get through, but unlike any non-Asian engineering major, it will eventually pass. And when it does, you will finally reach

STAGE 5: Acceptance

Guess what? I am MAKING money. I am a functioning member of society. The world no longer looks upon me with scorn. I don’t get emails reminding me to act responsibly on Halloween. Welcome, Neo, to the Real World.

This is less of a stage and more the rest of your life. Congrats, you made it through Shelob’s lair and came out the other side glowing like the light of Earendil. And remember, you may not be drinking in FW anymore, but you are getting a paycheck. And THAT is the greatest gift of all!

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