I don’t think it really hit me until I looked at my diploma with my own eyes. There it was. My name. Written on the diploma that I’ve been working toward for four years. And it was right there, in my hands. That’s when it became real to me. That’s when I realized that my days at Hendrix College were over. My undergraduate career had come to an end.
It was a surreal feeling, and it all just hit me at once. I realized that I had really enjoyed my time at Hendrix. That I had learned a lot and met some amazing people. That I’m going to miss that place and those people so much now that I’m gone. I realized that things will never be the same. They can’t be. Looking at that diploma was a wake-up call that my life was moving forward and leaving college behind.
In times like these, it’s easy to focus on the endings. The end of my undergraduate studies. The last night I spent with my friends as a college student. Endings can be sad, but they’re also always new beginnings, and those are never something to be sad about. College was great, and I’ll cherish those experiences forever, but I’m not going to let the fact that college is over stop me from enjoying what’s to come. Because as great as college has been, what’s to come is even better.
That last statement may sound harsh. It may sound like I’m trying to downplay how good my college years were. That’s not the case at all. I’ve loved college, and I love the friends that I made in college. I will cherish those memories and maintain those friendships forever. It’s going to take a lot to top the last four years. But I truly believe that my best years are ahead of me, and I don’t want to miss them by always looking backwards.
And as much as I’ve enjoyed college, some bad stuff has happened the last four years. I’m certainly not sad about saying goodbye to those things. Now I get a new start in a new place. As much as I hate to say goodbye to all the good things in the previous phase of my life, I’m happy to be free of the bad things, and to be a better person because of them. I’ll take what I’ve learned and try to make the next phase of my life even better than the last.
The day of my graduation, my dad told me, “Well, tomorrow’s the first day of the rest of your life.” Funny enough, I’ve had May 18 marked as “The First Day of the Rest of My Life” for months. I guess he and I just think alike. But it’s so true. I just started the rest of my life. I’m just a few days into this new phase, and it feels great. I’m happy with the way things are, I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and I’m excited about where I’m going. The rest of my life may be a mystery, but it’s going to be a good one.
I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far. And I want to give a special thank you to every person who played a role in my college years. I’ve had some of the best friends, professors, and mentors anyone could ask for, and I am so thankful. Bear with me as I transition from college into summer and (very soon) into the seminary phase of my life. I can’t wait to learn, to grow, and to share my experiences with you. God bless.