Almost exactly three years ago, I put on an ill-fitting cloak and an odd-shaped hat on the way to receive a piece of paper that signified I was now legally required to start paying off the impressive student loan debt that made the previous four years possible.
It was my college graduation, and it was the worst day of my entire life.
This isn't me employing the Internet hyperbole we've all come to know and begrudgingly accept over the past few years -- if I was asked to pinpoint the most insufferable 24 hours of my entire existence on this planet, nothing would come close to trumping May 20, 2013.
Do I have any good memories associated with that day? Sure, but they're all dwarfed by the numerous miserable moments I experienced throughout the day that made me question how badly I even wanted my degree.
I can thankfully look back a few years later and laugh at my many misfortunes, but I can't just sit by in silence knowing the fate that awaits millions of students this graduation season.
Here are my four tips for surviving graduation without wanting to kill everyone.
Never. Stop. Drinking.
In a perfect world, you wouldn't drink the night before graduation, but I'm not going to waste my time writing a list filled with unrealistic expectations virtually nobody outside the state of Utah is going to take to heart.
It's expected you're going to spend that last night in college doing the same thing you've done for most of the ones that preceded it: Drink too much and regret your decisions in the morning.
Unfortunately, the morning is only the beginning of your adventure, which means you have a couple of options.
The first is to employ one of the many ineffective hangover recovery strategies you tested out over the course of your time at school.
The second is to employ the only strategy that actually works: Stay buzzed enough to keep the hangover at bay until after the day's events are done -- I recommend buying a few nips of any liquor that won't make you vomit when it's warm.
You'll definitely hate yourself for it afterwards, but it's easier to deal with a hangover when you don't have to worry about vomiting on the shoes of the president of your university in front of thousands of people.
Bring sunglasses (not for the reason you'd think).
If you give a mouse a cookie, it's going to ask for a glass of milk and if you give college students a bunch of alcohol on the last night of college, they're going to stay up way too late trying to drink all of it.
My college actually encouraged people to stay up and watch the sunrise from the top of a parking garage, which seemed like a great idea until we realized we had two hours until we had to be dressed and ready for the ceremony.
Most of my friends ended up passing out in their seats during the commencement speech, and I still regret forcing myself to stay awake as I listened to a bunch of generic inspirational ramblings I could have watched on YouTube a few days later.
That's why I recommend bringing a pair of sunglasses. I don't care if it's raining or if your graduation is inside -- at some point, you're going to want to fall asleep, and while keen observers will be able to tell you're napping, at least it'll be less obvious.
I don't know if it's possible to train yourself to sleepwalk, but that's also something you might want to look into. If I could have squeezed in a 15-minute power nap during my procession, there's no telling how differently things could have turned out.
Bring sunscreen (exactly for the reason you think).
You might not think it's hot enough to get a sunburn, and the universe will spite you for your hubris.
If your graduation is outside, take the time to protect yourself. The day is already filled with enough physical and emotional trauma -- there's no need to make the pain last any longer than needed.
Graduation gowns also lead to some really weird tan lines.
Have your room packed and cleaned before the ceremony.
When you receive your degree, you instantly become a liability to your college, and most schools require students to leave the campus as quickly as possible.
My roommates and I thought we had done an adequate job getting our dorm to a point that would only require a final few minutes of organizing before hauling everything downstairs and going our separate ways.
We were wrong. We were so, so wrong.
The last thing anyone wants to do after making it through the ceremony is literally anything, but we were faced with a room filled with piles of assorted items that never seemed to get any smaller and a contracted security firm that was tasked with rushing us out of our dorm as possible.
After reaching a point where I told a Rent-A-Cop to "go f*ck himself" for reasons I don't entirely remember, I realized I was A) an "adult" and B) so, so over graduation.