Brian Goldman | Gradually warming to graduation

Farewell Column | Sometimes a nudge is all that is needed

· May 11, 2012, 3:57 am   ·  Updated May 12, 2012, 1:15 pm

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Graduation is hard to embrace, but it helps to be nudged into the real-world.

The first time I came to Penn for a visit in September 2007, I was a little disappointed. My brother, father and I drove up past the bridge with the Penn sign by 30th. It all seemed a little too city-ish, too industrial.

Later that day while on a tour, I was convinced otherwise. There was more campus to counter the city than I had previously thought. There were a bunch of other silly metrics that I used to judge the school — the atmosphere and ultimately, the fit.

What’s ironic is that now, staring down the end of the tunnel — graduation — those small judgments seem so insignificant.

Our individual and collective experiences at Penn were never shaped nearly as much by the facets of the school itself than by the people who composed it.

That’s part of the difficulty of writing a graduation column, in a way. How do you condense four years, more weeks and many more days into a neat 700-word column?

You don’t. Especially when four years are driven so strongly by personal interactions that differ from person to person.

Graduation, of course, is the exception to the rule. We all share in it and experience it similarly.

I have a hard time sitting here and saying with a straight face that graduation is fantastic. It’s not, it sounds weird and feels funny. One day you’re a part of something, and then you’re not.

But then, there is also a reason why it is celebrated and why I’ve struggled so hard to embrace this alien notion of graduation these last few weeks.

I think it has to do with the fact that sometimes you need a nudge to do something and in this case, graduation is the nudge that gets us out of college and into the real world.

We might not want to be, but you and I both know that we’re prepared for the “real world.” Graduation is the final push that gets us out there.

When you think about graduation in those terms — as a nudge towards a new chapter — it takes some of the sting away.

After all, it was only a nudge that got me to apply to the DP as a columnist. It was only a slight leaning that made me apply to Penn early decision despite my initial disappointment. This isn’t really all that much different.

I’m not going to delve into my four years here, because our personal experiences are so unique, and frankly, irrelevant. I had a memorable time here at Penn for too many reasons to count and understand, and I hope you did as well.

What I couldn’t understand this entire time was graduation. Writing helps, but I really still don’t.

Yet, we don’t really have a choice and we never did. I think that’s the beauty of it all.

Short and sweet: A sincere thank you to my family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without you. Happy graduation to all.

Brian Goldman is a College senior and former columnist. He is from Queens, N.Y. After graduation, he will be working in investment banking in New York with an eye toward law school. His email address is briangol@sas.upenn.edu.

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