I don't think I've ever been more overwhelmed by a span of just a few days. It still hasn't hit me that I graduated from college this weekend. People keep saying, "congratulations" and, "you worked so hard!" and, "so what's your plan now?"
Well really, I did deserve a congratulations on making it through four years of being stuck in the middle of western Massachusetts. I deserved to get my medal they put around my neck at the HFA graduation; like Bruce Jenner got his Olympic medal for putting in hours and working through his physical stress, I got mine for putting up with years of emotional stress. "What's that?" people asked at Travis' grad party. "It's my gold medal I got for graduating" only I wasn't really kidding.
Commencement was a long process, but I feel like either it went by too fast for me to enjoy, or I was just terrible at taking any of it in. A woman from outer space gave a speech about how UMass molded her life, a student gave funny pop culture references, and we had to listen to the "mmkay" guy from South Park lull us to sleep for ten minutes. I almost cried on several stress-filled moments, one being that I forgot my robe and my dad laughed at me like he laughs at everything I take seriously, and I sat starving through each ceremony wondering why they charged for food at graduation. One or two moments I almost had tears of joy thinking about all the students coming together to celebrate an achievement, but I never feel those things fully in the moment, it's always later on my own when there's no one to see.
And what next? I hate small talk. I hate telling people the same thing every couple of minutes, and I hate getting the same questions. I also hate that half my family thinks I'm going to be a movie star while the other half thinks my degree in Theater was probably a waste.
Before having my graduation party, I thought I was excited to have everyone over the house. Then I realized: I have TWO families. Not by any fault of mine, my divorced parents and their relatives all had to be in the same pink polka dotted elephant filled room because it had rained and our tiny house was to replace our spacious backyard I had planned on using for a cookout. My aunt smiled at my sisters, wondering if they remembered her. My uncle I haven't seen in two years stayed outside talking to my stepdad about cars. My gramma kindly helped my old great great aunt with her coat and wonderingly observed my schizophrenic but very sweet cousin as she folded her sweater nineteen times. As my Papa tried to heal my migraine with rieki and brushing my aura around my eye, and some old friends floated in and out after a plateful of potato salad, I'd had just about enough. I drank through the headache just so the panic in my throat would cease.
I'm terrified to start pursuing my dreams because when they don't happen fast enough I'm going to get very depressed. That, and I hate that one gramma tells strangers in the street she has a granddaughter that's going to be on Broadway and the other one nods and says, "oh that's nice" and then discouragingly says I should commute to my internship from Worcester and "find a nice job" as she crushes my dreams and compares me to the relatives that majored in business and law. Even after seeing something I wrote, directed, ran the light board, and acted in one scene, she still doesn't see that I'm actually pursuing a career. I didn't even want to tell her about my job interview tomorrow because it's at a sales firm, and I feel like she'll secretly have a victory over me if I get a desk job.
While it's amazing that I have friends and family who think so highly of me that they have no doubt I'm going to make it, I think it's somewhat of a good thing that I have those who are a bit less than encouraging. It just makes me want to prove them wrong that much more.
Today, I'm making a promise to my five-year-old self that wanted to grow up and be Cameron Diaz just so she could be Jim Carrey's girlfriend in The Mask -- I will be a fabulous actress, and I won't even need a boyfriend (or approval) to do it.