Dear Graduated Writers,
What were you most excited for about graduating (is it the same thing now that you're graduated)? What do you miss most about BYU?
I was really excited to not have to commute as much as I was, but while I'm still commuting less, I'm commuting more than I thought I would. I do have to say that I miss the amount of variety that was in my day; even if I was super bored, I'd be doing something different in an hour.
Before I graduated, I was really excited to start graduate school. Immediately after I graduated, that didn't change, and I'm still quite happy with my choice. Nowadays, I'm getting really tired of taking classes because my research is more interesting and engaging. I definitely won't miss being graded on everything I do. Grades were a huge impediment to my education, and I love that I can direct my own learning now. If I want to become an expert on, say, supersonic jets or music production software, I can learn what I need without being bogged down by prerequisites or unnecessary information. If I find a topic I like more, I can switch gears whenever I want, and tangents are no longer a bad thing. It's very freeing.
I'm not really qualified to answer your second question since I never left BYU. I graduated in April 2014 and started my graduate work the following spring term. I can't predict what I'm going to miss, either, since I don't know where I will go afterward.
BEHOLD YE LONGE AND BORINGE MONOLOGUE, READER, AND DESPAIR! Let's get started.
Honestly, I was dreading graduation. I started work on my undergraduate in Fall 2007 when—ironic though it may seem—I tried to get through school as fast as possible. I signed up for a Spanish major, then switched to a Biology major, discovered it was boring, declared myself an Environmental Science major because I saw a cool pamphlet, and went on my mission. When I arrived back from my mission I decided maybe I had to figure out if my major was right for me. I began taking classes like crazy and would end up going to school year-round for the next three years in an attempt to both figure out if I liked my major and blow my generals out of the water. And blow them out of the water I did, if that phrase can be read here as "withdrawing from College Algebra 110 once, failing outright twice over spring and summer and eventually getting a C- a semester later." When I ended up re-declaring Environmental Science as my major, I did so not because I really cared for the classes, but because I needed to have a declared major to apply to the Media Arts program as a minor and it sounded more likely to bring me employment than a Latin American Studies major, where for some reason I had effortlessly accumulated like thirty-three credits.
Okay... If this is going to be a sob story, we may as well get to the sobbing part. Bla bla bla, I went on like two study abroads in the same year that were freakin' sweet. I went to both the Jerusalem Center and the Andes and Amazon Field School in Ecuador where I met Owlet while I was still a reader. Things were great, until I had the worst semester of my entire academic career in Fall 2013. It wasn't my only bad semester, either. The intervening years between then and April 2016 have been nothing less than a royal sufferfest of academic malaise and possibly depression. I hate academic work... but I dearly love being at BYU. WHY, ARDILLA, WHY?!?
At the time I write this, I would probably say it's all I've ever really known. We're trained basically from birth to be students, and so for the last twenty-two years I've had some sort of vague goal to work towards. Now... now what do I work towards? 'Cause while you're a student you seem to have more flexibility with telling people "I have no idea what I'm doing with my life, but it's okay because school." Well, I still am telling people that, except now I have no idea "because recent graduation."
More than that, though, school seemed to represent possibility. Something I began to say in Board Question #84452 but then stopped because I was trolling Tally, M. (sorry Tally) was that I've realized I am crazy about access to things, or rather, the perception that I have access to things. Let me 'splain: Have you ever sat in one place with two convenient options, but then you don't want to make a choice and pick something to do because then you can't do the other thing instead? I hate that feeling. I hate it. And it basically defines my life. I hate it when I realize I no longer have access to resources, programs, or people. When I take the time to think about it, I subconsciously try to set up situations so I can access stuff. To make this clearer, let me make you a short list of some things I have had access to at one point or another since I showed up at BYU:
- Most buildings or rooms on campus (when I was a nighttime building security officer at BYU, not so coincidentally during the summer when I failed College Algebra twice)
- Basically all of the Museum of Art (signed up when I left my first job and became a MOA guard)
- Part of a government base because I had a summer job there
- A sweet greenhouse and a lab on campus, for a research job
- Being able to sign up for random classes because I was a student, especially film, foreign language, dance and student activity classes (it is harder to take classes at a university when you don't attend it, btw)
- Being able to use campus student resources (including but not limited to counseling)
- Harold B. Lee Library services and resources, especially the Multimedia Lab
- The 100 Hour Board, obviously.
Sometimes the access is more abstract in nature.
- When I worked as a figure drawing model I had an "in" with the students and teachers, and I could sometimes sit in on classes and draw with them because they were already familiar with me. I also heard about random animators and artists coming and lecturing at BYU (people like Cory Loftis, character designer for Zootopia). I was also able to go to the anatomy lab and learn about the human body via cadavers because of this job. Yes, that was on my bucket list. Also dead people smell weird. When they're preserved in formaldehyde, anyways.
- I weaseled my way into BYU's Theatre Ballet performance of Alice in Wonderland partly because it was a very convenient way to very quickly get to know all the BYU ballet girls, who I generally found very attractive (turns out they were almost all freshmen... **sigh**).
- On a wider scale, BYU I think to me has represented access to people to date and access to some yet-to-materialize successful dating future. More on that in a second.
Now, this idea of access has some serious limitations. Try I might, my functional access to any one thing or person is limited. I can't take advantage of every thing and resource because there simply isn't time, and even though all the time in the world would never be enough while I was still at BYU there was still the possibility I could somehow make meaning out of all this stuff.
There's a serious social component to this as well. Much of my social life for the last decade-ish has come from BYU. My coworkers, classmates, friends, roommates and people I date are overwhelmingly people I've met here, and it's nice to know people and be able to run into them as I walk around campus or study in the library. Also, shout out to my peeps at the Learning Commons desk, if you're reading this. You're the best. Circulation desk peeps, you're cool too. But the other desk and me, well, we tight. We tight.
Now I can still go to campus and see people I know, but I feel as a graduate I am no longer a student. I feel I have become "other." Now when I show up to campus, I feel like I have to theoretically have some reason besides just wanting to be there.
Okay, now comes the foretold whining about dating: I statistically have been pretty bad at dating at BYU. We won't go into all the reasons for this, but I left BYU very frustrated with dating and very, very single. I recognize it's not healthy to base my feeling of self-worth on something as fickle and sneaky as dating, but to some extent I consciously or subconsciously have and it left me bitter, weary and frustrated. That's pretty close to how I always feel about it, but at least before I knew there was the possibility of finding new people to date serendipitously as I did virtually anything on campus and being able to hit the "reset" button on my Feroz Dating Hopefulness Modulator whenever a new semester started.
What do I miss most now I've graduated? I'm not sure, as it's only been like a week since I dumped my stuff into a beat-up Honda Odyssey minivan and drove it reluctantly to the casa de mis padres and moved back into the basement and resumed whatever it was I was doing before college, which it appears are video games and wasting my life on the internet and avoiding human contact (although I did manage to accidentally get a decent summer job starting in a week). This week has been very frustrating, as it appears my procrastination and self-loathing have survived my academic career. There are some good things, though. For example, I found out my parents own TWO WHOLE BAGS OF GARLIC RYE TEXAS TOAST CROUTONS! At least, they did. Now there's only one. Also now I can move anywhere and be jobless there at any time! And struggle with student debt! Yay! You know what? Maybe I'll just go find that second bag of croutons.
TL;DR: Ardilla is angry about lots of things but he also has some croutons.