How is it that nearly 16 years ago my mother reluctantly left my kindergarten classroom window after my teacher had told her she could go home and stop peering in at me and assured her I would be safe?

How is it that nearly 10 years ago I showed my first hogs of the 16 I would ultimately show and sell at the Alameda County Fair?

How is it that nearly 8 years ago I was a Freshman in high school with the world ahead of me not really knowing where my journey would take me?

How is it that these past 4 years at Cal Poly have zoomed by faster than a speeding bullet in the wild west?

All of these questions and more have been coming to mind over the past few weeks. Why?

This time next Sunday, Father’s Day, I will be changing my tassel and tossing my grad cap in the air (just a little toss) to celebrate the completion of my higher education.

Grad Cap

My friends and I have been sharing with each other the full wave of emotions that have come over us for the past couple of weeks. I’m convinced that graduating college is like going through the five stages of grief. I’ll explain my theory briefly to you ~ with added humor.

Denial:  (college student Fall quarter of senior year) “Oh I have nine more months left in this place! That’s sooooo long! Graduation won’t come that fast! I’ll just ignore it and enjoy my time left.”

Anger:  (college student three quarters before graduation when submitting grad approval) “What do you mean I have to graduate from Cal Poly? How dare you make me leave San Luis Obispo! That’s not fair!”

Bargaining:  (college student in last quarter) “Well, maybe if I fail this class, I won’t be able to graduate! Maybe I’ll pick up a minor! Or double major! Yea, that’s it! I’ll pick up another major! Four more years here I come!”

Depression:  (college student after realizing the bargaining stage didn’t work out) “Aw man. Cal Poly sent me this ‘contract’. Now I have to graduate. I’m sad. I don’t want to leave my friends and the place I have made my home. Ugh!”

Acceptance:  (college student during finals of last quarter) “Ok, I can do this! Opportunities are looking up! I’m in the job hunt/I already have a job lined up! Maybe the ‘real world’ isn’t so bad after all!”

Did you experience these feelings when you graduated from college? Are you a soon-to-be grad like me and are confused by the mixed emotions you’re feeling when the “G word” comes up?

After spending a lot of time reflecting on the past four years, I realized each year taught me something new. I learned LOTS of things in college, but these stood out to me:

Freshman year:  Personal space is valuable, but better spent with people who make you happy. The world is full of people to meet, places to see, and things to do! It’s best to dive in feet first to make your journey as valuable as it can be!

Sophomore year:  Adventure is out there. Grab life by the horns and make something of it! Set goals, achieve them, and do great things! Everything is possible with a great support system behind you every step of the way!

Junior year:  Accept challenges to thicken your skin and allow you to grow as a person. Step back and look at the big picture when you get wrapped up in the details. Keep a forward motion and your eyes on the prize.

Senior year:  Embrace uncertainty and go with the flow. It’s better to keep an open mind than a closed one and an open heart for those that value you. Never give up, be afraid, or look back; only to reflect on something that can help in the future. Momentum will take over and you’ll get trampled if you don’t keep up. So keep your chin up, reach for the stars, and see the sunshine in everyone. You will enjoy life for this!

As I look back over the past four years of college, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this one heck of a ride, and congrats to my fellow grads! We did it! I’m excited to continue writing the book that is my life. This past chapter is a cliff hanger, so I’m excited to see how the next chapter begins!

How have you dealt with a cliff hanger in your life, but picked up writing an exciting new chapter?


~Mal the Beef Gal