I graduated from university this week.
Four years of deadlines, demands and sleep deprivation culminated in the five seconds I spent on stage receiving the hood for my Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree. I shook hands, I smiled and clutched my degree desperately. There was no way in hell anyone would ever be able to pry that thing from my hands. Four years for this sheet of paper that confirmed that I had met the requirements for my program and achieved them with first-class standing to boot.
After posing for countless combinations of family pictures blinking rapidly against the June sun, I traded in my gown and hood for my own belongings and stepped out of the university gym for the last time.
And that was it.
I achieved a dream I’d set for myself back in my senior year of high school. From that anxiously hopeful moment to this joyful one were countless memories that I will carry with me forever. I’m currently feeling this weird mix of proud relief. I can’t believe I did it but I can’t believe it’s over.
So what next?
I have a bunch of short-term goals set for myself but no commitment as large as the last four years have been. As someone who is incredibly high strung, it’s driving me nuts.
I’ve got to find something to invest myself in the way I had with my degree. I need something to drive and motivate me otherwise I’m afraid I’ll be swallowed up by the empty nothingness. What’s the point of working hard at a job and saving up if you have nothing to save up for?
Material things aren’t enough of a motivator. Anybody have a purpose I could borrow for the next 2 to 5 years?
Part of this confusion and this lost feeling come from the fact that while I achieved one dream, I said goodbye to a different dream this year.
It was dream closely intertwined with my graduation. One came true, the other fell apart.
I was going to relocate once I finished school. As luck and life would have it, my reasons for staying outnumbered the reasons to go until it just didn’t make sense for me to move. While I’m not as devastated about this as I thought I would be, it’s kind of a weird feeling to turn away from a life I almost had.
I’m mourning the person I could’ve become had things turned out differently. I’m grieving for the experiences and opportunities that I may have had. And I’m learning to accept that things will be different than I had anticipated.
And so I’m getting comfortable with the idea that I’ll just be ambivalent for a while. I can celebrate while feeling melancholic, all at once.
Luckily, that expensive piece of paper otherwise known as a university degree taught me how to multi-task.