OPINION: Graduation, a Road (More or Less) Traveled By

I’m a student who graduates – this week.

Some might expect a cliché article about how my happy memories here at Central Michigan University built me as a person. In ways it has, greatly, but instead I want to get real about my experiences.

You begin in a new environment, usually terrified, because you have to start all over. Soon, you’re feeling on top of the world, finally exiting your beloved comfort zone. Then you’re finding a major and signing it in later than expected because testing the waters is never enough.

As courses get more advanced, you being to lose sight of your passion. You find yourself sitting in class, trying to catch up because your teacher speeds through each lesson. Maybe you’re getting above-average grades, but it’s still not enough compared to the students who immortally outshine with their high G.P.As – God bless their talents.

It starts to feel like teachers and advisors are overlooking you because you don’t fit the standard of the student who will be successful after graduation. Getting a low grade because you’re balancing the heck out of life makes you want to beat yourself up – it gives faculty the reason to put you in the “not good enough category.”

Then you nail a big project in a course and find yourself looking at it again and again, mesmerized at how hard you worked. No matter the final grade, you’re proud of it – you’re starting to see your talents unfold.

You crave the the feeling of joy when peers congratulate you. The rush of exhilaration when they say, “There will be a future for your talents and I am excited to see it!”

Somehow, you get through the monthly emotional breakdowns. You call your parents and rant and they comfort you even when they don’t fully understand the emotion.

You make it through the rough waters with personal relationships, the uncertainty of tax returns and financial aid, you savor being surrounded by bright people and laughing about goofy experiences shared.

Then you receive the graduation email, and for a moment, the memories and laughs and pain come back rushing back and everything feels nostalgic.

My advice is this: even in the bad times, graduation will come too fast. Enjoy it now, and take the bad with a grain of salt knowing that one day, it’ll be done.

I’m a senior upon graduation, a day I’d never thought I’d see at my lowest points. Let’s pop the champagne bottle to those moments, and to many more.