Isn’t that a scary thing? The “Real World”. And no, I’m not talking about the television show, although they did hold a casting in Tuscaloosa that I almost went to. I, like many of you, graduated this past weekend. Some of you have another week or two left, some of you will graduate in August or December. I was fortunate enough to finish in four years (read: the parentals said you get four years) but I tell you, I wish it wasn’t over.
I’m truly excited to start the next chapter of my life, it’s just so strange that it happened so quickly. I remember being a tiny freshman at this huge university and not knowing what to do with myself. Let me tell you all a little bit about my experience at Alabama.
My heart wasn’t set on UA when I went there. It was the best school to pursue telecommunications and broadcast journalism out of the schools I applied to. I almost went to Clemson. I was almost a cheerleader at Presbyterian College. I got a scholarship to LSU. Vanderbilt didn’t want me, and I was crushed. But it was such a blessing. I settled on Alabama because it was close to home, and they had a great program. Within my first month of college I went through a horrible breakup, was dealing with a lot of anxiety, and was overwhelmed with the hugeness of Alabama as I graduated high school with a class of 102. I started applications to transfer my second semester. My parents told me I had to stick it out for a year. Well, I almost didn’t survive after my first semester after suffering a pulmonary embolism.
I had never wanted to be at Alabama more during that week I spent in the hospital. I missed my friends and my school. I had come to terms with being there, and I loved it. I technically wasn’t supposed to go back for the semester in my condition, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I had to be in Tuscaloosa because it was home.
I realized how much Tuscaloosa and the university meant to me then, but that feeling of belonging was amplified during the April 27, 2011 tornado. The end of my junior year was abrupt, but the sense of community was something incredible. Walking around with my fellow students, my Alabama family and crying for our home made it all the more difficult to leave. Returning for senior year was tough because Tuscaloosa wasn’t the same. It was still missing pieces, still hurting, but being there with our community felt right.
During the thirty or so seconds that I walked across the stage, received my “we owe you a diploma” case, and did a John Bender-esque Breakfast Club fist pump to my family, my whole college career flashed before my eyes. I was filled with excitement and pride, thrilled that I completed college in four years (as a double major, too!) and had an amazing time in the process. I felt accomplished and old, but most of all, I felt ready. The University of Alabama convinced me that I am prepared for anything.
I can fight my way through any crowd after going to four years of Alabama Crimson Tide football games. I can get from point A to point B in fifteen minutes after running across the Quad to get to class. I can live on less than five hours of sleep a night after staying up to study or going out on a Wednesday. I can be patient after having to wait on the train to get to campus. I can survive physical and natural disasters after nearly dying twice. I can complete any kind of assignment after passing Media Law. I can lift a decent amount of weight after moving four times. I’m pretty sure I can do anything now.
So today when I drove home with Bryant-Denny Stadium and my sorority house in my rearview mirror, I felt good. I mean, I was sobbing and looked like a complete mess, but I felt good about my time spent there. Leaving college is sad because we’re leaving behind our best friends and our memories, but it’s a happy time too. We’re on our way to being real people in society. We’ve joined the club of esteemed college graduates which can be scary, but we’re prepared. We’re going to have jobs, be productive, and do something great with our lives. The “Real World” is about to get quite the treat.
Did you graduate this weekend? How do you feel? Are you ready for the “Real World”?
Caitlin is a graduate of the University of Alabama who has an obsession with cupcakes, coffee, and Harry Potter. She always has random fun facts on reserve and aspires to be a professional blogger, social media bug, and/or James Franco’s assistant. Follow her fabulous life @caitlincorsetti. You’re welcome!