Hakuna Matata

My grandmother used to do fingernail inspections.

“Let’s see your nails,” she’d say whenever we had a free moment together.

She’d usually make a little clicking noise of disapproval with her tongue because, c’mon, I always bit my nails and often had dirt under their gnarly remains after playing outside with the boys.

She would make a clicking noise today.

Despite taking nail-health vitamins and frequently brushing on coats of nail strengthener, I’ve been snagging my fingernails on furniture and clothing while softening them beyond repair when I wash my dishes. Having braces forever cured me of biting my nails, but lately I’ve been taking the snagged edges and tearing at them with my fingers. The nail strengthener formula stung my exposed nailbeds just a bit ago as I brushed it on while sitting at my new kitchen island/table.

Sure, Grandma would make a clicking noise with her tongue today if she saw my fingernails, but I don’t need to worry about it. In fact, I don’t need to worry about anything. 

I have a job. I have a car. I have a roof over my head (AND A DECK AND A PORCH AND A WASHER AND DRYER AND A PARKING SPACE) and food in my pantry.

I don’t have a homework assignment due at midnight. I don’t have three projects to do and an exam to study for after I get done with work.

She’d make a clicking noise today at my fingernails, but that’s the only click of disapproval I’d get from her right now.

I’ve been sleeping deeply and dreaming –– DREAMING –– for the first time in years. I have no worries. The only clicking sound I hear now comes from my stovetop when I light one of the gas burners to make myself dinner.

Hakuna Matata.

Crying in front of Plassmann Hall

10518857_824263050926992_6371536501199916685_nMy best friend here at school couldn’t believe it when I told her. Via text message, she whined and begged for me to stay.

“I’ll stay if you can pay for it for me,” I tried to compromise.

…she didn’t fall for that one.

Her response made me feel sick. It made me realize how much I’d miss out on. How much I’d miss my friends. How scary the real world is.

I pondered my predicament every day from the moment I noticed my degree audit’s tapped-out supply of credits. It took seeing a very expensive out-of-pocket cost on my student bill for me to see reason. I’ve always been a sensible person, much to my own chagrin. I knew what I needed to do, though I’d been in an impenetrable state of denial about it for months.

I told my friend Haley, a fellow December graduate, first.

“Congratulations, Emily!” was her response.

Wait… BACK UP, I thought.

I had expected her to tell me to stay, tell me to stick around and enjoy my senior year, tell me she didn’t want to graduate in December, either. But she didn’t.

I hesitantly told one of my roommates.

“I figured you would,” she said, referencing a conversation we’d had over the summer when I had first mentioned the possibility. “I would if I could.”

DON’T YOU WANT ME TO STAY?!?!? I wanted to scream. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FUN SENIOR THINGS WE CAN’T DO TOGETHER NOW? WHAT ABOUT THE FACT SOMEONE ELSE WILL HAVE TO MOVE IN TO MY ROOM?!?

None of it seemed to faze her.

So I’m done letting it faze me.

I’m done standing in front of Plassmann Hall with tears rolling down my cheeks at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. My life isn’t over. On the contrary, it’s kind of beginning.

After applying online for December graduation and filling out how I want my name to appear on my diploma, I called my mom to tell her. Luckily (I guess), my dad was in the car with her.

They congratulated me. Told me they’re proud of me. Graduating early isn’t the crutch I’d formerly seen it as. If anything, it’s a boost, an advantage.

Then my parents dropped a bomb onto  my life.