Reflecting On My University Convocation

Convocation can be defined as the arranging or calling of a formal meeting.  I didn’t realize until the day of my convocation ceremony that the formal meeting of two very important people in particular had been arranged.

I was dreading going to my university convocation.  In the weeks between finishing classes and the day of my convocation, I had managed to keep myself busy enough to ignore the fact that I was no longer a student.  I was certain that when the day of my graduation ceremony arrived I would not be able to put aside my anxieties about entering the ‘real world.’

As I sat through my convocation ceremony I thought about the day I began university four years ago. I was seventeen at the time and only now realize just how young I was.  I remembered entering residence on move in day, my hands shaking too much to open the door to my shared dorm room.  I remembered when my mom got teary eyed as she left me to begin my life away from home.   I remembered the first time that I felt homesick and the first time that my university room and city really felt like a home.

I remembered moving into my first apartment and eating Triscuits with cheese far too often.  I reflected on the hours of studying and essay writing.  I thought about my roommates whom over the past four years had become a second family for me.  I remembered experiencing my first love and soon before graduation, my first heartbreak.

While I was excited to be finished university, my excitement had become nearly completely masked by the anxieties I was feeling about entering the next stages of my life. How did the seventeen year old version of myself conquer a new home, new friends and a new living arrangement?

At my convocation, Wayson Choi, Canadian novelist and memoirist, received an honary degree and made a speech discussing the most important lessons he had learned in his 71 years.   Among the three lessons Choi imparted onto the crowd was a lesson that was so simple, but became important for my making sense of my graduation ceremony.  Choi stated that when you are successful, it is important to look back.

Upon listening to Choi’s speech, I realized how much I had grown up and grown into myself over the past four years.  It was also at this moment that I realized that graduating university was a meaningful success that I should be proud of.

My daily meal of Triscuits with cheese eventually turned into a healthy stir-fry, my shaking hands decorated my room into a home away from home and my fear eventually turned into confidence. I was successful, if not for the grades and diploma I received, but for building a life and a community of friends away from home.

While I am just getting to know a version of myself that is no longer a student, over the past four years I have learned many things about myself and my life that will affect the important decisions that I’m going to make over the next few years of my life.  At my convocation ceremony, I gladly opened that box I had packed away and let myself reflect on the past four years.

On the day of my convocation, I was not only coming into a meeting with my family, past professors, university faculty, my peers and their families.  While I was just getting to know a version of myself that was longer a student, I officially introduced myself to someone I realized I knew very well.

How did you/are you making it through the post-grad transition? Was your graduation a meaningful day? Please share!

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