One week. Seven days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800–
I think you get my point.
At once, the idea that I will be graduating from the University of Georgia is both fact and fiction. Reality and dream. It is a concept that has entered my mind and, yet, has not been fully digested that my new identity of “graduate” will have seeped into my bones, heart, and brain by this time next week.
At once, it is not a unique experience as I will graduate with about 4,000 undergraduates, but it is a distinct experience as we each will go off onto each of our own different paths.
And what distinct paths have taken us here.
I sit here at my computer listening to some music and with sunshine flowing in through my window and I think about the past five years. It has been a journey: one I have at once expected and did not expect. I was fortunate and unfortunate. I soared high and swam low. I made new friends and made some great memories; I also failed and cried many nights until they passed into a blur and became unquantifiable. I might not have accomplished all that I wanted, but I did accomplish what I needed. And, for that, I am blessed.
At once, it makes me think maybe all our experiences were neither unique nor distinct, but filled with similar deep experiences, memories, and emotions as we pushed the boulder up the mountain and find it falling back down from the very top just to repeat it again. And again. And again.
But, we have learned from these experiences and they have made us strong in each our own ways. And in our common hard work and our mutual loss, we have become ourselves built by these trials. We have become individuals: each burning brighter than the sun and each a glowing star—unique and distinct—among their fellow brothers and sisters.
And here we are: at the end and the beginning. Something smaller than the sliver side of a page in difference. It makes all the difference in the world.
As I begin writing a new chapter I will admit that I am not sure what the future holds for me. Like many others, I do not currently have a job lined up past May 5. But, I have many ideas swirling in my mind and I am ready to experiment with them and see what works and what does not work.
I am optimistic, because I have a web page, a camera, and my imagination. With this opportunities are endless.
I have always tried to understand what J.R.R. Tolkien meant by, “All that is gold does not glitter / Not all those who wander are lost.” It is a poem that seems obvious maybe, but I have grown to understand it deeper because of my experiences in college. I understand now that some of the trials we faced were made out of pure gold even though they did not glitter on the surface. I understand now that even though I may not have a normal—according to “society”—job that does not mean that I am lost. I am finding my new path by taking the road less traveled: the one that is not yet paved nor even smoothed like fields of grass that has yet met the soles of my shoes. I am wondering for this to-be road as I question myself and my goals.
At once, I realize that I balance on the string between optimistic and naïve. At once, I realize that these roads are going to require work to pave. At once, I realize that each of us are going through this new trial, this new road, this new understanding.
And, at once, there is comfort.
(Picture by Megan Duncan)