07/06/2012 12:17 pm ET | Updated Sep 05, 2012


On graduation day, the gap between college and the real world looks deceptively nonexistent. You finish your last finals, just like any other finals week. The cramming goes on, just it did every other quarter you spent in college. You hang out with friends, just like the last 14 or 15 years of your entire life when you ended another school year. But your last year of college is different! It feels so similar that it's hard to distinguish that it is different; truly an end to an era.

It does not feel like there will be no more Septembers (or August, if you prefer) to look forward to. No more back to school events, Homecoming parties, or even Welcome Weeks. Even if your job starts a week after you graduate, that new life still feels ages away, like it did the last 15 times you finished school. But this time, it's the real end. No more procrastinating; the world is at your door.

Graduation implies an elevation towards a new and higher level. However, when you are graduating into the real world, you start to realize that graduation is about dying. Death of school; death of always having your friends around you; death of the certainty that there will be more school. Death of an old life; an old you!

Although death sounds somber, it also means renewal. There will be new and different things to look forward to. The odd thing is is that it looms just above you. It is here right now, yet it feels no different. Maybe your job is starting in four days but it still feels like a whole other universe. You feel displaced.

We're hanging in the middle of death and life. This is transition.

And so we keep living life, just as it has always been. But if you are able to let go of death, you will at the same time embrace your life as a new person.

By Justine, University of California-Irvine

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