My grandmother took this picture during the ceremony; I have never actually seen my eyes so full of light and wonder. Leading up to the end of the semester I was incredibly down and depressed, and the very thought of closing this chapter seemed unthinkable. I practically burst into tears every time somebody brought it up. It's a big change and I can't say how I'll feel once I move out of my apartment for good. But in those two and a half hours, it was like things were coming together. Thus far, I have never felt more proud and blessed than I did during that commencement. It was truly a celebration and a victory.
As I continue the transition, I find myself wanting (and ultimately experiencing) more joy. I've talked about happiness versus joy before, but not so much the other emotions that factor in when we tend to least expect them. How do you lean into or acknowledge something without wallowing in it? Growing up, it seemed like you always had to be on one side or the other. You were either extremely happy or in pain, and the former was obviously better than the latter.
But now I know that it isn't that cut and dry, mostly because you can't predict what will happen or how you'll react to it at first. In other words, the choice isn't what to feel, but what to embrace. I don't believe that anybody is happy all the time as much as I believe that they're good at keeping their struggles under wraps. Thankfully I no longer subscribe to constant happiness, because happiness isn't constant.
Instead, I find it more important to be anchored.
Like it or not, bad things do happen, and you can't get around that. You're going to walk through fire or experience some kind of storm and most likely you won't be able to control anything about it. And when you do, the best place to be is grounded in something greater than yourself. For me, that is my faith. I don't always know what that looks like, but I desperately need it.
When looking at it from a broad perspective, our culture is the way it is because we live in fear; in fact, we're practically enraptured by it. Almost every article I come across has something to do with a list of what's bad and why. There's always a negative or cynical connotation to it, with little to no counter argument. The headline might as well read "How to Avoid Actually Living Life: (insert subject here) Edition. Even faith, love, and connection, which I consider some of the most wonderful aspect of any stage or chapter, seem to operate out of fear.
At the heart of it, fear and worry are ways of trying to control what isn't ours to control in the first place. This is especially true when another person(s) is involved. I'm not going to argue against the fear of trusting too much too soon. The fear of being taken advantage of. The fear of looking back and berating ourselves over what could have been done differently, wondering if the risk was even worth it. I understand that we all have different experiences and to different degrees. For me, the prospect of missing out on something (or someone) great because of what might go wrong far outweighs the prospect of getting hurt in the end.
It's natural (and normal) to wonder about the possibilities. But what if there was another way, aside from being weighed down by what has already been or what has yet to be?
Be cautious in order to be aware and fully present in whatever you're doing.
Take your time so that you can appreciate the process of getting to know people and hearing their
Don't protect your heart for the sake of not letting someone else in. Let God be the one to guide it, and trust that He will heal it in seasons of pain or sadness.
Allow yourself to be happy, even if the reason is temporary. Let that joy radiate, even it in means looking childish and goofy to the rest of the world. I would have saved myself a lot of stress had I just embraced that side of myself early on, particularly as a teenager.
Looking back on these last four years, I didn't just get an education, but an experience. My advice to anyone and everyone is this: whatever you do in life, be all in. It may only be for a season, but there's always a chance of your life changing in the best way possible because of it. Be in the present moment. Take a chance.
Don't worry about getting everything you want. Rather, focus on becoming everything you want.
While I still have room for improvement, I'm humbled to say that I did that.
And I'm glad.