The End is Nigh: Graduation

Tomorrow is a big day for me: I graduate from college.

It’s a terrifying prospect, really, because the future is a great unknown, an expanse of uncertainty, a looming sea with uncharted waters.

It’s terrifying when you don’t have a plan, and you probably should.

For years, people have looked at me incredulously when I’ve told them my major: English?! What are you going to do with that?

I’ve always responded the same way: I have no idea.

Now, here I sit, on the eve of graduation, and my answer hasn’t changed. In the long-term I know exactly what I want to do: I want to write. I bleed words: sentences and stories run through my mind, records on repeat. I want to write because words have power.

There are so many stories out there in the world that are waiting to be told. There are so many stories inside of me waiting to be awoken.

Psychologists and neurologists have studied the power of the mind to think, to feel, to connect, to create. Imagination is a powerful thing, and it can provide insights into a person’s brain, which is why Art is so important.

Since I’ve started this journey of writing, my stories haven’t really changed, at least superficially, but when the layers are peeled back, the true meanings are revealed. They’re like an onion: multi-layered, can make you cry, and are sometimes smelly.

Writing has been my therapy; it’s been my way to process life, and there is so much more life out there to experience, not just mine, but others’ lives, too. Stories have a way of changing the world, and so I want to write.

But with the way this economy is set up, writing is not a practical short-term solution (to the chagrin of budding writers everywhere whose sighs are heard all over the worlds). So I need a job to help supplement the writing, at least for a while. And on this brink of adulthood and all the responsibilities that come with it, I don’t have a plan.

And that’s ok because I’m looking, and I know life has provided me with a toolbox full of tools and knowledge to help me along the way.

Tomorrow, I graduate from college. I’m not the same person I was when I graduated from High school. Words cannot express how thankful I am for that.

As a senior in High school, I thought I knew everything. I was cocky and arrogant and so sure of what I believed.

Life has a way of knocking you off your feet when you get too confident. Mostly it uses gravity.

As a senior in college, I relish in the fact that I don’t know everything; there’s always more to learn. Thank goodness for that because life would be pretty boring if there was nothing else to learn.

I enjoy the fact that our finite human minds can’t comprehend the infinite nature of the universe; it keeps the appeal of mystery and wonder.

College has taught me how much I enjoy learning, how much there is to know. There are so many things to learn about other people, literature, history, philosophy, history, math, science, and the universe. One person can’t possibly learn it all.

If you’re not learning, what are you doing?

Emily Dickinson wrote: Lad of Athens, faithful be / to Thyself, / And Mystery – / All the rest is perjury.

Life is a mystery; embrace it. Learn, learn, learn.

College is the perfect place to learn from other people. And boy, have I learned.

I’m not the same person I was when I graduated High school because I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve come in contact with. I’ve learned more about the world, more about people. I’ve become more open-minded; my beliefs have changed because of the people I’ve met, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I graduate from college tomorrow, and it’s bittersweet. I’m ready to move on and to handle what’s next. My Liberal Arts education at this private Christian college has taught me more about myself and the world than I ever thought possible.

However, it’s going to be hard to leave people behind. In the past few years, I’ve found my niche, my posse, the place where I fit, the people who have taught me the most. And for that I’m glad. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the friendships I’ve made along the way.

I graduate from college tomorrow, but I didn’t do it on my own.

And I have so many people to thank:

My family for their endless support and love. My mom for helping me get to this point. My dad for the coffee dates. My grandma for making sure I was always fed. My grandpa for letting me “borrow his knowledge.” My sisters for showing me how to laugh in the midst of stress.

My friends for letting me vent, for showing me what it’s like to have people who truly understand you, for letting me into your lives while you share your struggles and hardships.

My advisor, Prof Q, for being that guiding light, for knowing what to say at the right time, for giving advice, for listening to me pour my heart out when I was having difficulty, for encouraging me in my writing and in life.

You, the readers of this blog, for letting me share with you my struggles, for your feedback and encouragement, for sharing your stories with me.

The whole Roberts Wesleyan Community for showing me that not everybody is the same. There are so many reasons why I didn’t want to come to Roberts, but I’m so glad I did.

These last few years have been a blast (while also being a struggle, a nightmare dressed like a daydream, a daydream dressed like a nightmare, and so much more).

So, yes, I graduate from college tomorrow. And it’s terrifying and bittersweet and everything in between. I’m 50 shades of anxious disguised as cool and collected (at least most of the time. I’m sure tomorrow there’ll be a few gallons of tears). But for now, this is it.

Time waits for no man. The world doesn’t stop spinning for you when you’re life is about to change. Change is inevitable, and I’m welcoming it with open arms. (Even if I have to wear a hefty trash bag in 90 degree weather)

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Graduation: I’ll Be Ok

On Wednesday, I ordered my tickets for my College graduation. It’s crazy to think that in a month and a half, I will be a college graduate. But, here I am standing on the threshold of adulthood and adulthood. And people keep asking me, “What do you want to do after graduation?”

I don’t know what to say to them. So I tell them, “I’m not quite sure. I’ve started looking to see what’s out there, started looking to see what kind of jobs I can get with an English Degree. I’ll probably go to Grad school at some point, but that costs money that I don’t have. So I’m looking for a job, any job I can get really. I can’t afford to be picky: there are student loans to pay off, a car to buy, my future to save for. Everything’s being thrown at me all at once, and I can’t avoid it no matter how hard I try—I’ve never been good at Dodgeball.”

Except I don’t actually say that because, well, it’s pretty obvious.

The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing after graduation. I know what my end goal is: to be a writer. But that probably, realistically won’t pay the bills that need to be paid (at least not right off the bat). I’m looking for a big-kid job that will pay the bills, but it’s a terrifying process.

And Depression isn’t helping.

Every time I sit down to work on my resume or work on an application, depression brings his cousins anxiety and doubt over for a visit.

It’s really hard to work on your future when the three cousins are interrupting you:

No one is going to want to hire you.

You didn’t do as well as you could have in college, and now you messed up your future.

Hah! English majors. What good job will that give you?

And maybe their right. Maybe I did mess up my future. Maybe I didn’t do as well as I could have in college because maybe I was too busy focusing on my mental health to worry about getting all A’s.

But maybe their wrong.

Because I didn’t necessarily do as well as I could have in High school, but I still got into college. And not doing well in College is not any indicator of how well you will do in life.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is that I’m worth more than my GPA. My GPA does not measure how many battles I’ve faced, how many battles I’ve lost, how many battles I’ve won. My GPA does not measure how smart I actually am, just how good I am at studying or BSing my way through essays. My GPA doesn’t measure my talents, my personality, how much I care for others.

My GPA can’t tell you how hard I am trying to be ok.

My GPA can’t tell you how bright my future is.

But my doubts certainly can. The harder I doubt, the stronger my belief is that I will do great things. (it’s counterintuitive, I know. But I’ve been fighting depression long enough to know that this is the case.)

I’ve been doubting a lot lately.

And all this doubting has made the world seem a lot heavier on my shoulders. It came to a head on Thursday night. If I was still self-harming, Thursday would have been one of those nights, without a doubt.

Instead, I wrote.

There were a billion and a half thoughts running through my head, but the only thing I managed to get out was “I’ll be ok.”

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I wrote that phrase 150 times, falling asleep half-way through the 151st time: I’ll be.

I’ll be (fill in the blank).

Amazing.

Strong.

Happy.

A world-changer.

But most importantly, I’ll be a writer. That’s what I am meant to be.

And it terrifies me.

I’ve started writing the same book three or four times. And every single time, I get freaked out and stop. But in the past few weeks, more and more people have told me that I need to keep writing. Some of these people have followed my journey from the beginning. Some of these people I don’t even know.

Somebody came up to me on Friday, told me that she read my blog because her friend showed it to her. She then told me, “Thank you for being my voice.”

Thank you for being my voice.

For a long time, I couldn’t find my voice. I lost in the midst of my fear and doubt.

But now I’ve found it, and I have so many stories to tell. Some funny; some sad. Some good; some bad.

And I’m terrified. But that’s ok because I’ve come to realize that fear is a powerful motivator. I’ve come to realize that words have power. Words can change the world.

My words have been my way of making sense of my struggles, and in the process, I’ve become the voice for so many who don’t know how to express what they feel.

And that terrifies me. I want to do myself and others justice. I want to express where I’ve been without losing sight of the future.

And the future terrifies me. My dreams terrify me. But if your goals and aspirations don’t terrify you, they’re not big enough.

I think fear is just your minds way of trying to protect you.

I’ve come to learn that no matter what happens, I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

“Walking the Stage”

Walking the Stage symbolizes leaving the old and stepping into the new. That is what I did on Wednesday. I received my diploma. I graduated. Everybody makes a big deal out of it; people say that you are going to feel different after Graduation. I don’t. Not yet, anyway. I don’t feel any different than I did a few days ago. Sure, I feel older, but I AM older (older than I was yesterday).

I don’t remember receiving my diploma. I remember the before and the after. The actual moment I reached out and took my diploma from the President of the Board of Education, is a blur. I must have been concentrating too hard on walking and trying not to trip as I crossed the stage. The only reason I know I graduated is because my Diploma was sitting on the table at my Graduation Party yesterday, right next to various accolades I received throughout my High School Years.

With that being said, I am relieved that High School is over. This year was particularly hard because of how hard I challenged myself (never, ever take 7 APs unless you want to have numerous mental breakdowns). Not only that, but I had a hard time getting along with a lot of my teachers. I don’t have to see certain people anymore. I can break out of this box that has been holding me captive for so long.

I won’t miss High School, per se; but, a part of me will always be at Gates Chili. My locker, that has seen so many faces before mine and will continue to see faces for many years to come, is there. I will miss the, for lack of a better word, comfort that Gates provided; I had grown to learn which hallways to avoid, which hallways were the least populated, which hallways were the quickest, the fastest routes to get anywhere in the school.

High School has helped shape me into the person I am today. I am leaving it with lessons that will continue to aid my development. I am leaving it less innocent than most people, but I am leaving it stronger than I was before.

So, for now, all I have to say is “Adieu, Gates Chili. I’m on to bigger and better things. My future is as bright as the sun in the sky.”

 

 

 

 

Faith

This blog post is a little bit different than my normal blog posts; but after spending my weekend up in the woods at a camp with other teenagers, I need to share what’s on my heart. 

I am a Senior this year, and with only 6 instructional days left, my whole life is about to change. At the beginning of this year, I was nervous. I was nervous about leaving my friends and creating new ones. I was nervous about leaving everything I’ve come to know over the last few years. I was nervous about venturing into the unknown. But, looking back on my four years of High School, I’m not so nervous anymore. You see, High School has tried to make me fit in this 8″ by 8″ box. After a while, my edges were sanded away, everything that people considered “different” was removed, it’s as if a big chunk of me is missing.

 Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

For a long time, I have had trouble trusting God with things because I have questioned whether or not he really cares and whether he’s really there. “…certain of what we do not see.” Believing in something that I cannot see is hard for me. I like to be able to touch things. I like to be able to see things with my own eyes. How do I know things exist if I cannot see them?

But then I realized how stupid that all sounded. I don’t have to see God to believe that he exists, because I’ve seen him work around me. He didn’t desert me when I was at my lowest, deepest, darkest point. He didn’t desert me when I wanted to end it all. He didn’t desert me, not ever.

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

NEVER. What a great promise that is.

I know God exists because he saved me from myself. He has answered my prayers, sometimes in the most unconventional ways, but, nonetheless, they are answered.

There was a time when I couldn’t make it through the day without cutting myself at least once (How I got to that point is a story all of its own). But my depression got to the point where I felt nothing–no sadness, no pain, no happiness, nada. I had to feel something. I needed to make sure I was still alive.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

He was always there, through it all. Through all the doubts about my worth, my inner battles, my anger at him, he was there. Always.

June 16, 2010, almost two years ago, was the day that I last cut myself. To say that it’s been easy would be a lie. Everyday I struggle with inner demons telling me I’m not pretty enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not worth anything. There are easier to resist now though. God has changed me. He’s made me stronger by pushing me to my limits. He’s made me put all my trust in him by putting my life on the line.

“You’re not pretty enough. You’re not smart enough. You’ll never amount to anything.” Those lies don’t have a hold on me anymore. Because God is stronger than that.

 

 

I don’t know what is beyond this bend in the road. I don’t know what is ahead for me in the next few years. I don’t even know what I want to do with the rest of my life (maybe I’ll write a book). But, I do know that God will be with me every step of the way, even with my doubts, my insecurities, the questioning of my faith. For He will never leave me; nor will He forsake me.