From a Graduate’s Perspective

From The Graduate, a Mike Nichols Lawrence Turman Production

Christine Byrne Poetry and Translations Panelist

Last night I dreamt I was Benjamin Braddock two years after The Graduate. And this is how it went:

So Elaine left me. Happy Valentine’s Day! It was basically inevitable—the whole dating your ex-lover’s-daughter situation ending explosively. She always kind of hated me anyway…constantly asking what I really thought of her mother…the awkward family holidays…the questionable messages on the answering machine. Her father couldn’t even look at me.

Regardless, as she packed her things with a few choice words, I felt lost.

I purchased the complete works of Proust and didn’t read any of it.

I tried blogging only to realize it’s dehumanizing. Consumptive. The underbelly of media hypocrisy.

I tried to change my theme music to post-modern funk just to jazz up my atmosphere.

I tried public humiliation to ground myself…I tried classical conditioning to honey-circuit the old brain…I even tried participating in daily events.

But at the end of the day, rolling down toward tomorrow’s dishevelment, I’d heave myself into bed each night unchanged.

From The Graduate, a Mike Nichols Lawrence Turman Production

“Last night I dreamt I was Benjamin Braddock two years after The Graduate.”

I graduated college. I crashed a wedding. I got married. Then divorced. I had my first Valentine’s Day after getting divorced.

And to be perfectly honest, I feel pretty much the same.

But! I’ve been thinking. If I could go back and do it all over, I would. I would do everything better.

I wouldn’t tell myself exactly what to do or any of that nonsense, but I sure would give young Ben some healthy advice:

    1. Don’t have a party after you graduate college. It’s just questions questions questions. You sink from it. (I quite literally ended up at the bottom of a pool in scuba gear).
    2. Look around. Stress is the youth’s Glaucoma. It makes everything hard to see. But you can’t live your life after-the-fact.
    3. It’s okay to say no.
    4. Don’t go into plastics. Don’t consider going into plastics. No.
    5. Consider graduate school. Reviewing options can be optimal. (Refer to point 2)
    6. There are many fish in the sea. This may be cliché but those Robinsons…they really wrapped me up.
    7. Experiment you. Change yourself. I’ve been myself forever now. Mr. Robinson once told me “killer confidence” stems from a man’s shoes. Maybe it’s just those little changes that set us.
    8. Listen to the background music. It’s really good stuff. The underappreciated mood.
    9. Try to love, I guess. Or maybe be alone. Either way it’s okay to be afraid of a lot of things. I can’t really tell what I regret. Maybe that’s a good thing.
    10. Just don’t be afraid of failure. I fail. I fail all the time. And I think I’m probably as happy as anyone else.

 

 

While it may be too late for me, this advice might be exactly what any of you soon-to-be-graduates need to hear right now.

Trust me. Before my theme music was the highlight of Simon and Garfunkel’s career, I sat, as you may be sitting now, wondering what all those years were worth. People kept asking me what was next, what I got out of everything, and I guess I have to say it—it’s okay to be going nowhere. I’m out here living alright and I don’t have any of the answers. It could always be done better. So I won’t say good luck to you graduates. You’ll be just fine, I promise.


2 thoughts on “From a Graduate’s Perspective

  1. Christine, I really enjoyed this post because of how relatable it was in multiple regards. For starters, I, along with many others, am nearing graduation and am definitely feeling sentiments of uncertainty. Secondly, hearing about how others feel this way, like yourself, through one of my favorite movies was extremely enjoyable and reassuring. A lot of the times, I put myself in the shoes of some of my favorite cinematic characters and often fabricate what would happen after what we see on the big screen. You greatly mastered how to do that.

  2. Christine, this post started out pretty hilarious but ended up being super reassuring and heartfelt for me at the end as a fellow soon-to-be graduate who’s all wrapped up in the fear that her future is just an endless, dark void. I really thought I was just going to launch myself into my perfectly planned “future,” but the closer I get, the more afraid I am even just to take that first step, and the more I realize that a future can never be perfectly planned. I guess when I planned out my entire future after college, I didn’t take into the account the rate at which things would be changing or I would be growing. Now, I’m running after myself trying to keep up. “Stress is the youth’s glaucoma,” is such a well-written line, and my vision’s definitely been a little blurry lately. But your blog post gave me a whole new perspective, and has definitely lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. It’s okay to be afraid. I think I’m going to be both happy and afraid and that’s a much better way to be than perhaps sad and afraid or just Afraid, so thank you for your much-needed advice. (And your writing is beautiful, as it has always been!)

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