Graduation: The end of an era for four friends

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:41 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For the past few years, my girlfriends and I had the opportunity to go through the same experiences together. We had the same homework, we commiserated about the same difficult professor and we spent almost every Thursday night together. In fact, almost every picture I have from the past two years is of all of us.

So when I graduated in December, it was the first time I felt separated from them. They were in class while I was job hunting. They were e-mailing homework questions back and forth while I e-mailed resumes. I couldn't relate to their inside jokes about school. But we were still together and complete, despite the fact I had taken onestep in life before them. We still had our girls' nights, our Thursday night television lineup and lunch dates to stay caught up. It was almost like I hadn’t graduated — except for the fact I was still broke.


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Five months later, the impending doom has set in. Facebook statuses abound with “I’m done!” and “One final left!” Some have internships, this year’s version of what would have been an entry-level job in last year’s economy. Some are floating into the real world like I did, with hope of work to come.

Being the one who graduated first and led the way, I feel obligated to share the small amount of wisdom I have gained from my circumstances. The recession wasn’t real to me until after I moved the tassel to the other side of my cap. Should I let them know what they’re in for? Tell them how frustrated they will be when they submit their resumes and employers won’t even bother to reply and let them know whether the position has been filled?

Do I need to remind them of the United States’ unemployment rate? Fill them in on the Craigslist scams that are designed to look like potential job listings?

CNN recently did a piece on the graduating class of 2009. They interviewed students getting ready to head out from their classrooms. CNN wanted these students to represent us and tell the world what life was like for the class of 2009.

The students spoke of their plans to attend Ivy League graduate schools in their quest for high knowledge. They won’t sway or change their plans because of some silly economy.

That is not the class of 2009 I know. That is not what life will be like for my friends and me.

No, I won’t worry my friends. They already have their ideas of what the real world will be like. For now I will let them be their optimistic, glass-half-full, beautiful selves. They are invincible for this week. There will be graduation parties, dinners, farewells and hugs. No recession will ruin that.

I will treat this graduation like I would any other year. Savannah will still get the cheesy graduation card with a corny joke. Samantha will get the sweet and sentimental card to match her personality. Pam, my resident copy editor, will still get the card filled with intentional grammatical errors to drive her crazy. 

“I feel like I’m graduating high school again,” Samantha said. “But I feel like I’m so much cooler than I was back then.”

She’s right. I’m feeling the nostalgia again, too. Everyone is heading off to her respective parts of the country, and for the first time in years we won’t be in the same place, doing the same thing. Unfortunately, this feels like more of my graduation than the ceremony I went to back in December. Before, I knew my friends would still be around and not much would change. Now, we are going into the unknown.

Like those girls who were smiling in every photograph together and huddled on the same couch, laughing every week, we will once again be in the same situation. Although that situation is scary, it is comforting to know the girls I think most highly of will be in the same place in life as me once again.

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at


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