I am now a University graduate.
Recently my University experience was truly brought to a conclusion by the finality that is the occasion of a graduation ceremony. I was a wonderful day, brimming with excitement, anxious, electric energy and an abundance of happiness. If I’m honest I was downright giddy, I think it was definitely adrenaline but also serious anxiety, the uncertainty and ominous nature of the event that lay ahead and what it meant for the future. The reality that all gathered were here to witness something important. My family were present and so supportive. I think the energy of the day was contagious and created a real joy and frivolity amidst the underlying tension felt by all graduates as we waited for our moment, for our name to be called and the accent up the stairs towards celebration and graduation to be made. There was a sense of fulfilment, pride at achievement at being finally able to hold a simple piece of paper, show proof of time and effort spent and be rewarded for the past four years.
I am now officially a qualified animal and human nutritionist holding an honours Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science from the University College Cork, Ireland. It feels incredibly surreal and also glorious to be finally and a little unbelievably able to say that sentence and for it to be true not a distant hope.
Walking towards the University president to receive my diploma that day, I almost felt as though I was walking in reverse, moving through time towards my future but also slowed by the momentous weight of what was happening, this realisation and completion of my formal education and success in a discipline I had committed to for four years was an overwhelming occasion and felt powerful, precious. Every nerve in my body was screaming; there was a slight tremor to my body and a constant mantra provided a backing track to help usher me forward and maintain hope that I not fall, not now. It was a genuine struggle to battle and supress the inner clumsy girl I usually just embrace and present some semblance of composure in front of this very alert and observant crowd gathered as observers and peers. The main thoughts I had in those moments of transition from student among my class to alumni in possession of my diploma were surprisingly quiet, content and optimistic. It was a relief, a calm to know I had made it to this point and that I was stepping forward, towards something new.
When it was all said and done, caps triumphantly were thrown high into the air, a tradition that could not be missed, despite the stone age and frankly insulting origins of the wearing of a cap for graduation but that is another conversation altogether. We gathered together in huddle groups of comradery and comfort, reminisced and remembered the times we shared in this place. The bonds that have been created and cannot be compared to any other relationship, deep and lasting friendships. We looked to the future also, to the great unknown ahead. This topic was not dwelled upon as there is an unavoidable sadness knowing that from this point on what we knew and had lived for the last four years would never be the same. Things must and would regardless of how we felt, change. The next chapter was imminent and although it is exciting there is naturally melancholy, a conflicting emotion of loss before this big adventure. I personally anyway had in the back of my mind all that day a worry and a fear. A knowledge that although intentions may be golden and solid, life does not always allow what we desire to be so. I felt this change, this reality that my friends and I were moving apart, very literally. We were no longer comrades in arms, students together, we are now graduates, starting again, going on our individual paths out into a new in the big wide open, separating world.
Here is a little look at what I wore, without and with the completely fantastic cape. My electric purple dress is coast and my shoes are nine west. The cape definitely makes the outfit though, I didn’t want to give it back.
I look back with genuine fondness; I of course remember the difficult times but also smile instantly when I reflect upon the experience as a whole. I would change things of course, do certain things differently, I have some regrets and also an immeasurable amount of treasures. Memories I will cherish and lessons I am grateful to have learned. I would hope I am wiser now, I am defiantly older and I feel myself I have grown. I have learned from experiences, countless textbooks and people, good and less so, a colourful collection of lessons. I learned about myself and have seen sides and depths of people I could never have imagined. I have loved and lost and loved again in those four years. I have hurt and been picked up. Laughed and been laughed at. I have lived a life I wouldn’t trade. It has been only, a snapshot, a brief moment of the long life I hope and intend to live and it has been exactly how it should have been and has given me what I need to move forward and keep going and discovering. I might wish to have done some things differently in hindsight but I regret nothing, after all it is the whole, all added together that has brought me here and now.