Post graduation-part two

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

As the end of my time in the classroom was nearing the end, I was regularly being asked if I was going to walk at graduation, if I was going to have a party and how I was planning to celebrate. In answer to the first question, it's complicated but I'l try to simplify it.  Because I was not earning another degree but a teaching certificate with an English endorsement, I wasn't qualified to participate in commencement.  It is kind of silly being that I completed over 100 credits and spent the equivalent of a new vehicle during this process.  But, I didn't feel strongly enough about it to make a stink.  And because I knew the university would tack on another $100 or so if they made an exception.  I wasn't about to pay them another cent.

Since I'm not one who enjoys having all eyes on me, I was hesitant about a big party.  I did want to celebrate with those who supported and encouraged me along the way, though. I did agree that this was a huge accomplishment and one that should be recognized but, at this stage of life, it felt a little silly.  Trey asked me to give him a list of the friends and family and offered to hold a graduation open house. It would be low key on a Sunday afternoon and guests could come and go as they pleased.  He promised to do all the planning and preparing as long as I gave him some direction .Done.  Because I rarely do anything like this, it felt so vulnerable and risky.  And because of this, I knew I would take it hard if no one responded to the invitation or didn't show up.  I should have gone with my gut.

Two weeks after he sent out the invitation, Trey got word that he'd be needed in California for a Monday morning meeting but required to arrive the day before.  When?  You guesssed it: the day the party was scheduled.  I didn't have it in me to reschedule. Again, he promised that I wouldn't have to lift a finger but what were the chances of that, really?

I woke up that Sunday morning and went to the store to get ice.  When I returned home, I left my phone in the car and went about my business inside.  A couple hours later, I retrieved the phone only to find it full of messages from my Seattle friends and relatives that none of them were coming because of the snow.  We had nary a snowflake and yet 90 miles south it was enough that no one would risk driving north.  I decided to carry on, knowing my local friends would be there but suddenly I was overcome with emotion and tears and just didn't have it in me to put on a happy face for 20 people. I wasn't expecting to respond this way but instead of pretending, I gave in and let myself be sad.  I called my close friend, who has been my biggest cheerleader and was coming early to help.  When I broke down, she and another friend swung into high gear and rearranged the plans.  They called everyone who was planning to attend and let them know not to come then rallied my closest girlfriends (who I should have just planned to celebrate with instead of having a party) and told me they'd pick me up at 5:00. I crawled back into my warm bed, had a good cry and slept off the afternoon.

The intimate celebration ended up being at one of my favorite restaurants followed by returning to my house and enjoying the overpriced cupcakes that were ordered for the occasion. It was such a sweet, loving gesture on behalf of my friends but looking back I realize that this was the beginning of my letting down and I had a hard time enjoying myself.  I didn't recognize how emotionally and physically fragile I was now that this journey had culminated. I had been operating in survival modeand living on an adrenaline rush with deadlines hovering over me and hoops waiting to be jumped through for the better part of the last 3 years.  It took its toll and my body was paying the price. My fragility made it such that a legitimate excuse felt like a huge rejection and I didn't have the reserve to see it for what it was. But it also made me realize how I needed to give in and rest.  I literally slept away the next two days, caught a nasty cold and slept another day away.

As I write this, I'm a month removed and wish I could go back, have a do-over and be a little more rational. I wish I would have seen it coming and realized that a massive letdown was inevitable.  Regardless, it can't take away from the reality that the verse I wrote on the front page of my journal in 2011 is as true now as it was back then.