I really wanted my graduation ceremony.
I returned to college at the age of 28. I had tried to go to college after I graduated from high school in 2007 but it just didn’t work out – I was never able to stay motivated or focused enough to accomplish much. When I decided to go back to school, I made the conscious decision to change my life and move 300 miles and go back to living with my parents so that I could afford school. It took 3 years, which went by surprisingly fast in retrospect, but this was the year; the year I was going to get my cap and gown and finally, officially graduate. All the hard work, sacrifice, and the stress would be worth it. I was excited and feeling like it was a little surreal that it was coming to an end.
And then a freaking pandemic happened.
Campus closed, classes moved online, me and everyone else in the country started to social distance. It all made sense from a health-perspective, of course, but still, I’m really, really bummed about the way my final year is ending. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.
Instead of getting to invite my family to my graduation ceremony or have a final send-off with my friends, I’m at home, wrapping up my classes over Zoom with our commencement postponed to a later date. And while I’m fortunate to be healthy and able to continue my classes and work from home, I can’t help but be heartbroken that I won’t really get to graduate in May.
I know others are in the same boat; college students, high school students, people planning weddings, those looking forward to once-in-a-lifetime-trips, etc. Nothing compares to those who are sick or dying from COVID-19, but as I stay home and try to do my part to help flatten the curve, I’m reminded of one of my favorite authors, Lori Gottlieb, saying “there is no hierarchy of pain.”
So, to my fellow graduates of the class of 2020, I am right there with you. I promise that our sleepless nights from stress and anxiety, our tears of frustration, and all the highs and lows we experienced these past few years were not for nothing. It won’t be the graduation we all anticipated but it will happen. We will get our degrees, we will get a chance to walk across that stage at a later date, and we will get a chance to properly celebrate. Remember, you put in the work, you got yourself here, and you will succeed beyond this – be proud of everything you accomplished.