A Note To Graduating Seniors: You Will Be Okay
It is that time of the year where students are starting to freak out about their futures and wonder if purposely failing a class would prevent the seemingly inevitable graduation day (or doomsday, your preference). As someone who spent most of her senior year on the Unemployment Train (curse you accounting majors), I want to just send a message to all of you, seniors or not. There is life after you are handed that diploma. It may not seem like it now… but I swear, you will be okay.
This year we learned that Penn Staters are a resilient bunch. There is truly no one else like us and there is not another university in the country that bonds together as a family the way we do. There is nothing comparable to Penn State pride. One of the best parts of graduating (if there is even a best part) is the chance to network with other Nittany Lions across the country. I get giddy when I see a car with a PSU magnet drives by. I may even forget to flip the driver the finger if he cuts me off. I only wear Penn State gear when traveling because I relish the opportunity to meet fellow alumni. I am in the process of turning my work desk into a Nittany Lion Shrine (pun intended).
You may have forgotten in the last four or five years that there is life beyond Park Avenue. But here is a comforting fact: almost every major city in the Northeast has a large Penn State alumni base. Most importantly, this means you will be able to find a Penn State bar mostly everywhere you go. (And this is what is important, I know.) No matter where you end up when you leave Happy Valley, someone will be able to answer you loud and clear when you say “We Are!”
Right now, it is hard for you to imagine a life without McClanahan’s and Creamery ice cream (or maybe Kiwi). Daylongs don’t exist Monday through Friday in the real world and to my great disappointment, cut-offs and leggings are not office appropriate attire. (And don’t try to convince HR otherwise). Social calendars are not handed to you at chapter meetings and your biggest problem does not revolve around refilling your LionCash. You go to bed before midnight for the first time since junior high and you become seriously addicted to coffee. The highlight of your weeknights is whatever is new on television. You learn to make do. The real world comes with a paycheck and I promise, it is a really nice change from being a broke college student.
You may end up moving back home with your parents. And that’s okay. I’m sitting here looking around my kitchen table at my home-cooked meal that my mom made, knowing she will do my laundry tonight and I am living rent-free so I can save money to eventually move out. Life ain’t so bad. Have patience with your parents – they only want the best for you and they are adjusting to you being back home too.
One of the things I realized most after graduating is that you really appreciate Penn State more after you’ve been gone for a while. When you aren’t walking up Shortlidge with the wind blowing so hard you have tears running down your cheeks, you start to miss the place and dwell on what it means to you. If it hasn’t already, Penn State will change your life. It will continue to change your life for as long as you let it. You will raise little Nittany Lions who sing “Hail to the Lion” Saturday mornings at breakfast. You will come back for football games and try to drink like you are still an undergrad (and mostly fail). You will laugh at how silly those students are for standing the whole damn game. You will wait in line for the Waffle Shop and rush back to Irving’s for a smoothie. You will come back for THON and get chills when the total is raised. You will, you will, you will. Because you are a Penn Stater and you will become a part of the best, the proudest and the biggest alumni association in the world.
Chin up. Enjoy each moment of your time left. Power through those job interviews. Spend time on the HUB lawn and on the back porch of Café.
And when you’re sad, just remember, they can cut down the Old Main elm trees, but they can never tear down Penn State.