The One Where I Graduate
At the end of each school year, a new class of students say their final goodbyes to an institution that they have come to know and love. It is a bittersweet moment of parting ways with a place shaped by meaningful connections and late-night study sessions. Family and friends gather together on this special day to witness their loved ones complete one of the most important milestones in a person’s life. After four and a half years, it was finally my turn. On May 12th, my family cheered me on as I walked across the stage to receive my college degree.
“Everyone who walks across this stage today, did it. Whether you followed that straight line and arrived here in four years or veered left and took the scenic route.” – Moira Collins
The day of my commencement ceremony was incredibly surreal. Although I never doubted that I would graduate, my circumstance had made the journey a little longer than what most people encounter. Moira Collins, an alumna of Southern New Hampshire University, addressed our class that afternoon. As I listened to her speech, I realized that I am a member of that unique group of students. I traveled off the beaten path and chose to follow the scenic route.
I was accompanied by a great deal of anxiety on this day as well. It just so happens that I am one of the lucky individuals who experience panic attacks, especially when around large crowds. My height, which has reached a whopping 3 feet 4 inches, only seems to increase the likelihood that I will panic in these situations. It would be quite an understatement to say that I was nervous about hundreds of people towering over me. Nonetheless, I arrived in New Hampshire sporting my cap and gown.
“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.” – Regina Brett
Attending my college graduation was one of the greatest moments of my entire life. I would have robbed myself of an amazing experience if I had allowed my fears to get the best of me. I had to remind myself that I had worked hard for this, persevered and earned it. My advice for anyone struggling with anxiety is to push yourself to do the things that scare you. It gets easier the more that you decide to confront what frightens you the most. I feel that it is always important to never ignore or suppress those fears. Acknowledge them, but never give them the power to dictate how you live.