"A milestone passed, new things begun, dreams as shining as the sun. A goal achieved, a victory won: That is graduation."
Exams have been taken and a 25 page paper for an independent study has been submitted. The last of the 12 credits needed for a B.S. in psychology and B.A. in sociology have been completed. I am, finally, a college graduate.
I have significantly mixed feelings about graduating. Part of me is angry that I missed out on a semester because I was in a hospital. Part of me is bitter that I didn't get to wear a cap and gown and walk with my friends last April. Yet another part reminds me that my situation could have been much worse, and that there are plenty who have gone through and continue to live with increasingly unfortunate circumstances. But nonetheless, most of me is furious that I caused such harm and destruction onto myself. Consequently, I have a difficult time internalizing compliments. I neither enjoy attention nor allow myself to have a pity or celebratory party. However, I am learning to make room for such uncomfortable feelings, without having to act on them.
Gratitude, humility and loved doesn't even begin to describe how I feel right now. I remember the day I was told I wouldn't be able to return to Pittsburgh back in August 2009. The day I convinced my doctors and parents to let me return to Pitt in January 2010 remains tattooed in the back of mind, and then again the day I had to move home in June 2010 still saddens me. Though every circumstance was different, one thing remained the same: It was ED that held me back-- that broke me down, destroyed me and forbade me from truly LIVING. But it was my family and friends who gave me strength when I was at my weakest-- physically, mentally and emotionally.
Rather than congratulate myself on (finally) graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, I congratulate those who have helped make it possible. If it weren't for the people who have fought with me, every single step of the way, I would not have arrived at this reality with both my physical and mental health in tact. Simply, I would not be who I am. So I thank YOU, from the bottom of my heart.
I suppose the inevitable question every college graduate is confronted with is, 'What's next?' For the first time in my life I can say with confidence and minimal anxiety that I simply do not know. At this very moment I have nothing grounding or holding me back-- the world is my playground. I know my passions, have documented my goals and hope there is much to accomplish in a year's worth of time, before I willingly start graduate school. I have made room for the unknown and have accepted that there is a destiny I can not control. Consequently, I am confident that as long as I keep stepping forward and working towards the goals I have set, I will get closer to discovering my fate. As a college graduate, I will use the knowledge I've acquired, experiences I've survived and learned from, passions I hold on to (with dear life!) and the support system that has been present despite my (plentiful) moments of weaknesses. To be perfectly honest, I am humbled and grateful to be alive right now, because a year and a half ago, I wasn't so sure I'd make it to my college graduation.
I'd like to celebrate the victories that help us make it to another day. Here's to whatever keeps us going. And here's to a life worth living.
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. YOU are the one who'll decide where to go." --Dr. Suess