Today has been really hectic for me. As you may or may not know today was my graduation. I am finally the possessor of two bachelor degrees; one in Psychology and one in English literature. Today I have finally closed the chapter to a five-year long journey that started out as a rocky hill, which escalated to a canyon of sorts, but now is but a valley with a beautiful view and great memories. I have so much to say about my day today but I’d like to rewind for a moment and talk about yesterday.
Yesterday (June 12) was the rehearsal for my graduation. Why would I need to rehearse a graduation, dear reader? Well because they had all these pep-talks and regulations they wanted us to know beforehand. Nevertheless, I don’t want to talk about the rehearsal per se, I want to talk about what it felt like to be a bachelor student for one more day.
One starts to believe that when you are at the end of a journey things have changed for you, you have changed for the world and together there is an amalgamation of sorts; well you’re wrong. Change does not take effect on a date because it is your graduation, your birthday or a rite of passing. Change comes when you step away from that situation and you submerge into new situations. A date or ritual (yes, a graduation is a type of ritual) does not change you; it merely signifies that change must take place soon. However, this is not always the case and I’ll explain. For me, punctuality and responsibility is a big deal; for my friend Laura (my Psych bestie) these are things that can be overlooked. Now, don’t go hating on dear Laura, she can be punctual when she wants to but it’s not in her priorities. I don’t hate her for it, because that’s the person she is. Yesterday at the rehearsal she was late because she overslept. Yes, we all oversleep some time but not Laura; she oversleeps every time. It’s kind of endearing of her to do so; at first it gets you mad but then you get over it because she didn’t mean any harm, she’s just a heavy sleeper. What I’m getting at with all this banter is that a woman like Laura (who also graduated today) would know herself enough to get a louder alarm clock or a better method as to not oversleep. Yet, this is something that takes time to work on. The first final test we had in freshman year she overslept and was late; today in our graduation, she also overslept and was also late. She did manage to pass the test and she did manage to graduate. These are small mistakes, things that you would expect that would magically disappear as one grows older, but they don’t. These things take time to change, as we change, and we adapt and grow. One day Laura won’t oversleep, she will also get a great job as an investigator; maybe even get married and so on. Change is gradual, not instant.
Now let’s fast forward to today’s graduation. Today, all the excitement within me seemed to dissipate and float away. I was left bereft of proper emotion or realization of what was happening. Five years and today I stood tall and was awarded two degrees. Five years and today I walked up on stage, shook hands with the dean (my ex-boss) and ended my days as a bachelor student. Five years and today they all came to an end. Yet, they didn’t feel like the end. I don’t know if it was because all my emotions were stunted by excitement or because my mind was unable to comprehend that starting next August I’d be in a different place; nevertheless, my graduation was surreal.
After walking from the lobby of our main building, we were greeted by the university’s band at the entrance of the coliseum. I felt honored, I felt proud, I felt happy, I felt sad. The whole way there I held hands with my freshmen friends from psychology and kept telling them “here we are. This is it. We made it!”. And this was it, we had actually made it but it didn’t feel like we had made it anywhere else except inside the coliseum. Even after all the graduation ritual, I didn’t feel any special; I didn’t feel any different (Fairy godmother, have I turned into a pumpkin yet?). Which brings me back to my first point, change is gradual; it’s not a magical spell that can be summoned at will. Change happens, yes, but it take it’s time. However, the time for change and results is set by us; it is only the extent of our will and our strength that will bring change.
As I walked out of that coliseum, two Magna Cum Laude medals around my neck, two tippets from my honor societies around my shoulders and two diploma holders in my hand, I knew that I was ready for change. More than that, change had already started its course. These material things do not make up the change I want for myself; they are merely reminders of what I left behind. Change is embodied through my actions and through my words. Though my heart still does not comprehend the process of change and wishes to stay tied to the past; my mind is already severing ties, tying new ones and preparing for adventure. Change, within me, is happening, even if I can’t see it. I am changing, my world is changing, my future is taking shape and I’m the one that’s molding it.
As I go to sleep with my old university’s hymn in my head, I force myself to realize (as I toss round in my bed) that I have reached an end. I may start anew at Appalachian State but a gate has been closed, a world sealed off and a life has been spent. Yet, in a far crevice of my mind, I hear my mom’s voice as she said “this is not the end but the beginning.”