I never imagined I would be watching my friends at Cal graduate on my Facebook newsfeed, but here I am, viewing images of familiar faces in navy caps doning their perfectly groomed heads pass my eyes on a computer screen.
If anyone knows me, they understand that I am not the super-hyper cheerleader saying "Go Bears" at every little chance I get. However, I do get surges of pride for my university when I see some random European wearing a Cal shirt (to whom I yell "Go Bears" and who stares at me like I just insulted his family). I feel an unexpected pangs of excitement when I hear that our team has won something-or-other. When I meet someone in Europe that also goes to Berkeley, I do the traditional "ohmygodIgotheretoo" battle cry.
I never thought I'd feel emotional at seeing everyone I know (and don't know) parading across my Facebook newsfeed in their caps and gowns. But I actually do. I sort of wish that I was in that crowd of sweaty anonymous students, waiting in anticipation for three hours for my name to be called.
More than my twinges of jealousy, I feel bouts of pride for my fellow seniors. We more-or-less went through the same baby steps it took to reach this giant leap, from those god-awful G.E.'s to those that introduced us to one of our new passions. We've all navigated from the confusing first week on campus to the confusing first week of REAL ADULT LIFE. We all had a difficult time imagining this day four years ago, but it smacked us in the face.
I am currently pouring over notes, not quite done with my undergraduate career. I'm still nervously anticipating my exams, not quite feeling like a graduating senior. I'm planning my summer Eastern Europe trip, stressing over visas and hostels, and - oh, yeah - worrying about what I'm going to do be doing to get cash so I can eat. In other words, I'm feeling as disoriented as a freshman navigating the halls of Dwinelle (which I eventually mastered, thank you very much!).
But seeing you all in your graduation robes has given me the inner-strength to push through these grueling Spanish exams because I know how hard you have all worked. The ceremonies you are experiencing now are beautiful, grandiose symbols of that perseverance. My only piece of advice to you would be to travel as much and as often as you possibly can. You really don't need much advice; you will be the ones giving life tips to those less experienced, and you will be damn good at it.
Dear Class of 2013, I am so incredibly proud of you all. Now, go have a beer at the Bear's Lair for me.