Around this time last year I was pretty sure I had developed skin cancer while sitting under the baking sun for hours during my college's Commencement ceremony. I even brought a printout of a WebMD page to my doctor a week later, having self-diagnosed a highly suspicious splotch on the bottom of my foot. To my chagrin, however, my doctor laughed at the printouts and told me to call her if the splotch had become any larger (It hasn't so far.).
What a harrowing tale it would have been, to tell people my whole life changed in more ways than anyone could have predicted during my college graduation. Instead, I now have to spew the usual recent graduate angst about whether or not I should go to graduate school. Except now that another class graduated from my alma mater this past weekend, I am not so sure I am a recent graduate anymore. The Google search results for the parameters of being a recent graduate are largely inconclusive.
Because I am a millennial (I think), and we are supposedly self-absorbed, I decided to attempt to figure out what the endpoint of being a recent graduate would be instead of dedicating my efforts towards something fruitful, like the finding a cure for the aforementioned skin cancer. Very scientific methodology was used -- I polled approximately five former classmates. Some excuses for the small sample size: one harsh reality of post-grad life is that it is difficult to meet up with friends when they live much further than a campus-distance away from you. It is also possible that the more one succumbs to recent graduate angst, the more one's social circles dwindle due to general odiousness.
As expected, the answers I received from my informal poll were on a wide spectrum. Friends optimistic for better alternatives in the coming months said that there were at least one to two more years of recent graduate life ahead of us. Those fed up with their current state of life and ready for this phase to run its course said our days as recent graduates ended as long as six months ago. And one friend said that we are recent graduates until the next major milestone in our lives, whether it be gainful employment, marriage, or graduate school.
I liked the major milestone hypothesis because I like to keep things arbitrary. However, just to confirm with a more official source, I also checked the policies of my college's alumni association with regards to what they consider "young alumni," as they have special events for that demographic. According to one outdated website, a young alumnus is someone who has graduated within the past ten years, which would place all the attendees of these young alumni events between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-two. Given that female fertility peaks at 27, the midpoint of that age range, I smell an elaborate matchmaking scheme.
I hope when I am 32 I am not likened to or grouped with my current 22-year-old self. I may still be considered a young alumna at 32, but I will probably also be able to remember to buy toilet paper regularly by then. I will have stopped obtaining furniture from the sidewalk, and I will have a nice working relationship with my landlord, sans feuds. I do the opposite of these things as a recent graduate, but it is possible that young alumna and recent graduate are not synonymous. The latter might be indefinable, pertaining to an individual's rate of maturity instead of an accepted endpoint.
Knowing that I have a great deal of maturity left to gain, I am patiently waiting for that next major milestone that will catapult me out of recent graduate status. I secretly want to live a more pulled together life, but it's easy to lapse into the bad habits I have formed this year. Maybe I should start with something small, like not wearing wrinkled clothing to work. I will then still be a total mess on the inside, but maybe people will think I look older than someone who has been out of college for one year. I did recently find a white hair on my head, so that should help in keeping up appearances.