Despite my best efforts to evade it, the “Day That Would Not Happen” is upon me. For months, I have refused to acknowledge Commencement: I forbade discussion of The Day in my house, hung up on my parents on mention of the Forthcoming Event, and shrugged off the inevitability of our Pending Walk with my friends.
“D=Diploma,” my roommate joked, and we flipped the pages on our calendars, pretending to ignore the passage of precious weeks.
But I can no more deny the reality of my current situation than the presentation of the B.A. that I managed to earn in four years. I can’t be ready to leave school. Not when I am at best a bipolar adult, swinging radically between extremes on the scale of relative maturity.
My last class at Yale illustrated the absurdity of my graduation. As I left the lecture hall, my mind teemed with the implications of the concluding discussion of postmodernist theory. Perhaps this was the meaning of my Yale experience, I thought. I came to Yale to discover that intellectuals could do no more than affix big words to the uncertainty and confusion that I feel on the brink of the great beyond.
My lack of a job for the fall paled in comparison to layers of meaning I started to see in the typical scenes of campus life that passed me. So Yale had prepared me to be a postmodern woman, to face the uncertainties of my future, of my very existence, in an objectified world. Voila, I was launched!
But where had I been walking as my mind uncovered the meaning behind my forlorn figure walking across campus? I was lost. I stood on the corner of Hillhouse Ave. and Grove St. and laughed out loud at myself. No way am I mature enough to be postmodern — I can’t even find Kirkland Hall.
The truth is that I’m not ready to graduate and enter the workplace. I still haven’t learned when to call adults by their first names.
Take the recent incident in which I accidentally called Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg “Betty T” to her face. Or a recent e-mail conversation with my senior essay advisor, who steadfastly addressed me as “Ms. Stein” until his final note concerning my grade began, “Dear Letitia (if I may).”
Ms. Stein or Letitia: Who am I now?
The rules governing life as a young adult seem hazy from my perch atop the Ivory Tower. I still cry at the things that matter the least, hurt people close to me just because I can, and selfishly expect the unconditional love and support of my parents. How can I be grown up when I still have difficulty distinguishing between my right and left hands?
I actually don’t think I am going to grow up ever, not really. Lately I have begun to see myself at some future date sitting in a school auditorium with a yet faceless male by my side. As the young person I am there to see dances clumsily across the stage, I grin wildly at the irony of my presence.
Like many seniors, I have overly dramatized my forthcoming foray into the “Real World.” The great outside is neither so immense nor so distant from my present life, but Commencement is the end of what has been at times a fairy-tale existence within a gothic fortress in New Haven — but not until the final name has been announced.
Letitia Stein was the Editor in Chief of the Yale Daily News Board of 2001. She is a proud member of Ezra Stiles College.