Yet it was one of the happiest moments of my life thus far.
Out of high school, I’d taken a different path than most of my friends; I never expected to finally be there, accepting that symbol of years of hard work and accomplishment.
Now there I was, baking in the Greek Theater, 9 years wiser, the proud owner of two Associate’s degrees, and finally at the last door to that club called the Bachelor’s.
To say it hadn’t been easy is is a huge trivialization. There is a reason people go to college when they’re eighteen. That’s when you have the energy to study and work and maintain decent grades and some semblance of a social life.
Yet I had powered through, worked several jobs to pay my rent, and took out enough loans that I probably won’t pay them off until I die.
I’d absorbed inhuman amounts of knowledge, slogged through hundreds of novels, wrote thousands of words, delighted and detested Faulkner as he plagued me through my honor’s thesis, and forgot what the word sleep meant.
I was the eldest in my study abroad program, but I came home richer in wisdom and having something akin to fluency in French.
I’d driven myself slave-like for two and a half years and somehow sustained a 4.0 and a love of the written word, not to mention invaluable friendships with both professors and peers.
At last the time came for the Literature majors to stand and march across the stage. Hearing my best friends cheer for me as I accepted my fake diploma, I was particularly careful to smile for the camera as I inwardly laughed.
I dawdled on the stage, hugging each of my professors, and thus reaching the stairs at the same time as the girl after me. After her, I was too excited to pay attention to silly things like rails and tripped a bit down the stairs. Catching myself before a most embarrassing and potentially painful fall, I recovered like a champ.
Hours later, after the turning of the tassels, it truly sunk in. Yes, walking across that stage was symbolic. Yes, that diploma in my hand was fake and my real diploma would arrive later in the mail. I’d actually finished after my last final exam. I’d really achieved my degree after my professors had posted my final grades. But it hadn’t felt real until wearing that gown and motor board, shaking hands with the president of the university, turning my white tassel.
I was a graduate.
This was a post for the RemembeRED prompt: Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of.
|I was happiest to have water.
|Bonus photo (so you can see how sunburned I got that day).