It’s been almost two weeks since I walked across the stage at graduation, shook hands, and received my diploma. Two weeks and it still doesn’t feel real. It happened though. Thousands of families watched as our Commencement ceremony began and siblings and faculty saw me miraculously not trip walking across the stage. So it definitely happened. I said my goodbyes and I’m almost done moving out of my apartment. I catch myself thinking though: When will it hit me that this chapter of my life has come to a close? Will I notice when school starts up again with Orientation in the Fall and I’m not there to see the neon shirts and crowds of kids at the Caf? Or when I come back for Homecoming and realize I have to actually pay for a football game ticket? I’m not sure yet. I do know that it will hit me one day, and hit me hard.
I also don’t know what I’m doing post-grad, and that’s okay! It gives me time to figure out my life off campus. As I look ahead to my future career, I also want to look back on the years that got me here.
Four years ago I was walking through the Wren on Convocation. I walked with my freshman hall, sticking close to the hall mates I didn’t know that well. I high-fived upperclassmen while imagining what it might be like when I walked the other way through Wren for the last time during Commencement.
Four years before that, I was a freshman in high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college or where I wanted to go. I couldn’t even drive yet. I was quiet and unsure of myself. I did well in school, went to marching band practice after, and played UNO with my friends on the weekends.
Before that, I was in middle school. I was embarrassed about everything. I had major social anxiety. I didn’t know colleges existed.
Before that, I was in elementary school. My dream job was to be a teacher like my third grade teacher I admired. I talked, constantly. I got in trouble for reading ahead and once got left on the bus because my nose was stuck in a book and I missed my stop. I was innocent and unaware of my body, my space, my place in society. I played kickball and rollerbladed around my neighborhood.
A lot has changed since I sat at the homework table everyday at lunch because I wanted to read instead of do my vocabulary homework. A lot has changed since I lost a bit of myself to anxiety and fear. A lot has changed since I found that bit of myself again in college, supported by my friends from the very first moment.
W&M has shaped who I am and opened the windows to the world so that I may see and experience things I never thought I would. I am not scared of post-grad life because I know that the friends I made and the family I was a part of at W&M will support me through anything. I am excited to explore the world and seek new challenges and I hope you’re excited to join me in this new chapter of my life.