How do you find words that sufficiently say all that demands to be spoken at the end of an era? How do you capture the myriad of memories, of struggles, of mountaintops and valleys, when it all comes down to one day, one moment, one long walk across a stage?
Within that word, there is the sum of four beautiful years of my life.
Commencement: Noun; a beginning or start; a ceremony where a degree is conferred on graduation students.
Four years ago, I came to Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oral Roberts University as an 18 year old kid who had a few ideas of what she wanted to do, some sort of vague concept of who she was, and a whole lot of fear. I was scared of trying to make friends, scared of science and my entire class load, and scared of making mistakes that would dictate my life to me instead of having the freedom to make my own choices. I had to build a life in a completely new place, far from everything I had ever known and where literally nobody knew me.
I had a commencement. A new beginning.
I learned to enjoy, or at least appreciate, the hard classes. Ok honestly, I simply just have a ton of respect for people who can do chemistry and not want to bang their head against a wall. I will never enjoy it. BUT, I did it. I took the road less traveled, the road that challenged me beyond anything I could have dreamed, and it’s paid off.
I’m going to start a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Indianapolis this August.
My goals, my small ideas, have become a reality. It’s so surreal that some days, I still wake up and feel like some pretender and that it’s the other Annamarie, my successful twin or something, that managed to do all that. I still feel like some kid waltzing into PT school without a concept of what being an adult is.
I’m about to have another commencement. Another new start. Another beginning.
But for now, I’m living through my last days before the rest of my life begins; spilling ink onto the last pages of a book that makes up my college years. I realized that I have the ability to distance myself from a moment and recognize that it IS a moment; realizing that many of these special times are the very last ones.
As insignificant as some of these are, they are the sum of my last moments in this season.
Ecclesiastes 3 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build… a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
There was a time for college. It was wonderful. It was a time for growth, for planting roots somewhere far from home. It was a time to tear down my preconceived notions about who I was and build a character of integrity that can handle going after my dreams. And now, there can be some bittersweet moments to mourn the ending, but as I look toward the future, it’s my time to dance.
To all of you who are ending a season- do not fear the future. Face it head on, chasing the horizon of change that is flying at you. Be like the woman in Proverbs, be “clothed in strength and dignity… Laugh at the days to come.”
But also live in these last days. There is something special about being able to enjoy the end of something. There’s rightness, a fulfilling feeling in knowing that though you can never go back, that you don’t need to and you shouldn’t.
There’s a time to end and a time to begin. There’s a time for commencement. But never forget the time to enjoy the last days.
The Road Goes Ever On,