I believe that true transformation is a result of life’s events and their impacts on your mind and emotions. These events, whether they be the death of a family member or friend, the birth of a sibling, niece or nephew, moving to a new school, getting a new job, taking a trip to a distant city or country, or a graduation, bring inevitable change in how you think, feel, and work as a human being. The epiphanies that follow the aftermath of these events aren’t as fleeting as resolutions made during New Year’s, changes you’ll promise you’ll make now that you’re a year older, starting a new school year, or even starting the next week (you know what I’m talking about: “I’ll start tomorrow”). Instead, life’s events change us slowly without our knowledge and the realization that we’ve changed essential mannerisms and ways of thinking comes long after we cease to recognize ourselves as the people we once used to be.
“And even though we may be involved with the most important affairs, achieve distinction or fall into some great misfortune – all the same, let us never forget how good we all once felt here, all together, united by such good and kind feeling as made us, too, …perhaps better than we actually are.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In high school, it was easy for me to get caught up in myself: what I was doing, what I had to do as far as college and school work, and what other’s thought of me. So, it wasn’t often that I felt connected and could relate to my classmates, which made me feel isolated and different throughout most of my high school experience.
Now, it’s easy for me to say that graduation was my favorite day of high school, because I could finally relate to my peers. Sitting in wooden folding chairs, ignoring the tickling of the tassel against my cheek, anticipating my diploma, and thinking of the bright future away from high school’s cinderblock walls, I felt like everyone else. The atmosphere was euphoric and the sentimentality of the night was not lost on me. I smiled at classmates I may have only talked to once. I gave dozens of hugs. And I took many pictures (more than I’ve ever taken at one time before) as if I never thought of myself as not photogenic.
All of this I did blindly, not knowing that a year later I would be a different person.
I t may sound unusual, but I am extremely proud of my diploma. With it, I felt that I had something to show for 12 years of classes (both easy and difficult), friendships (both failed and continued), and memories (both bittersweet and special). And, I felt like I could let all of it go as I set it on my dresser, no longer having the negative aspects hanging over my head but at eye level where I could fully see and appreciate them and how they shaped me.
“You’re off to great places/ Today is your day/ Your mountain is waiting/ Go, get on your way!” – Dr. Suess
I went my own was as we all do after graduation, making a fresh start and taking on more responsibility than I ever thought I would right out of high school. But that’s what graduation is: the time before new stressors and adult tasks (living on your own, taking care of yourself, buying your own clothes, groceries, books, and forcing yourself to interact with people, go to class, and basically get out of bed in the morning) are thrust upon us without our permission or consideration.
I didn’t ask to be changed through the year after graduation, but it happened anyway, and I would like to say that I’m a better person for it.
Congratulations to all the graduates this year! But get ready, change is coming!