Chapter 15: It’s finally over!
Having written at this newspaper for nine semesters, I’ve seen more than a few people write their farewell columns. We writers are often as egotistical as you suspect, and we tend to treat any parting piece as an opportunity to spin some grand linguistic send-off that aims for the emotional weight of the most epic of movies. (Hell, I’m watching one of the more intense arcs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just get in the right mood for this).
But for any flash I can get into a goodbye column, you, the reader, likely won’t notice I’m gone. Even the most remote potential for consideration will be found fleeting when another equally or more talented writer comes in and writes his or her own column about life, death and relationships. I don’t mean this in a jaded or self-deprecating way — I’m just being realistic about the type of rapport shared between a college newspaper columnist and his potential audience.
So why don’t we just skip the epic goodbyes this time? Sure, this will be the very last piece I write for The Lumberjack, but that’s no reason to not treat this week like any other. After all, this is probably just going to be all about me anyway, right?
So here’s the situation:
Like most of you, I’ve been in school for the majority of my life, and graduating college marks a noticeable turning point. I’m not continuing into graduate school, but rather heading out into the world to see what real life is like. I’ve always thought the difference between high school and college was expanding the dramatic playing field and removing the parental restrictions — like a test to see if you can handle being an adult. And as graduation is very seriously nigh, I’m starting to realize something:
I’m absolutely f—ing terrified.
Maybe you’re wondering: “Why is Gary so terrified? Hasn’t he been spending the entire semester writing this column like he’s the penis of the walk?” Indeed I have, and graduation means it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.
The truth about real life is that it’s hard. Even if life actually is kind of like a movie, it should be noted there are more than seven billion movies playing simultaneously right now. Everyone is a lead in their own story, and like most protagonists, none of us has any idea what the script-writer (i.e. life) has set out for us.
If that is the case, then what makes me special at all? What if I’m actually the bit player in somebody else’s big story? What if there is no glorious third act, and the cards in my hand are not the ones that’ll take the house by storm? I imagine most graduates feel at least a hint of this, but I know my fragile ego is not cut out for absolute failure.
But then again, maybe I can use this anxiety. If I’m too afraid to fail, shouldn’t that only increase my already irrational drive to succeed? Perhaps the secret to being successful is simply believing you will be — that everything will work out if you continue working and pushing and attempting to innovate. Maybe this is just dangerously self-indulgent tenacity, but it’s gotten me this far, right?
See, this column has really just been a transitional tirade. We spend our collegiate careers talking and ranting and debating about the things that professionals and grown-ups are making decisions about every day. But the nature of college is not unlike the nature of this column: a riff on something that inspires it. This column riffed off movies, and college riffs off real life. Sure, I may be scared poopless, but I also know five years of college has left me tired of riffing. The reason that Chapter 14 was an excerpt from my indie flick’s production diary is merely to articulate how ready I feel as a person to tackle the real world in all its glorious reality.
So let’s pretend, all of us, that this whole life thing is a movie. For me, that means all the wacky adventures up until this point — from losing a father to making a movie and everything in between — are all a part of some colossal production that is too long and uninvolved for people to sit through without a few pee breaks.
And if you’re like me, you aren’t even close to exhausted yet. If you are graduating in May, consider this: Commencement is merely the end of Act 1, and you have a whole movie left to live.