The Meaning Behind “Commencement”

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Call me naive, but all 21 years of my young life I have gone along hearing the word “commencement” but not exactly knowing what it meant. From 5th grade commencement, to middle school, to CCD confirmation, to high school, and finally college; I have always believed commencement meant an award, I thought it meant proof that you did something right.

Your commencement events may seem like a heartbreaking goodbye; but I encourage you to turn that frown upside down. There should be happiness when you hear this word. The true meaning of “commencement” given by Webster’s Dictionary is the time when something begins.

Being a senior who is about to graduate, I feel like something in me is dying. It might be the party girl. It might be the one working part time jobs and goofing around the whole time. It might be the girl that sleeps until noon and rolls out of bed to go to the mountain. Maybe it’s the girl that goes back to the ocean and lives with her parents for the summer. Or maybe, just maybe nothing is dying at all.

Every four years it seems like I am making a huge transition in my life. With each transition, I’ve realized I haven’t lost anything I didn’t want to. I have only gained memories, lessons, and experiences that have helped me. If I had truly lost something, it’s because I didn’t need that thing in my life anymore.

Though post-grad life is the first real step towards transitioning into adulthood, it doesn’t mean all the fun is over. Kiss the days of struggling for money goodbye… while you’re at it say goodbye to those all-nighters you had to spend because you weren’t able to do your homework at your part time job you made hardly any money at. Say goodbye to dealing with boys that act like five years old because “hitting it and quitting it”, is better than finding a girl that will truly love you. You will be able to look forward to weekends, because waking up at 5 a.m. hungover and going to a real job isn’t something you’ll be doing on the weekdays. Adventures will become realistic, because now you actually have money, and your friends have moved to places you’ve always dreamed of going to (and those visits to see your friends will be that much more stimulating). You can finally give back to your parents, after years and years of taking from them (maybe even send them on a vacation!?). Maybe you’ll go out with people you would never had the chance to hangout with in college because it was dominated by cliques.  Maybe, you’ll be happier once you leave college.

Most importantly, you are now the captain of your own ship. It is up to you to decide how you truly want to live your life. Will you influence people, will you become the most successful writer by age 35, will you move to France?

If the future isn’t exciting you, you do not have big enough plans for it; and I encourage you to keep growing your story, thinking of ways to experience as much as possible, as well as finding ways to influence as many people as possible. One last note: turn the graduation frown upside down; this is commencement.

The beginning of something new.

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What College Taught Me

Sure, we come to school for educational purposes. But what we actually learn when we are on this four year journey is something so much more than the name of a class. It is so much more than Financial Accounting and Consumer Behavior. It is so much more than learning how to network and live in a professional setting.

If I chose to not come to college, who I am as a person would be drastically different. After four years of adjusting to people from all different places you find who you really are, and more importantly who you’re not. I don’t think there is a specific moment this actually happens, but one morning you wake up and realize that you are happy with the person you have become. You stop trying to impress people because you realize it is a waste of your time, and personality. I’ve learned that by not caring what others think of me  I have allowed my true colors to shine through, making me a happier and stronger person.

I’ve learned that rejection is only a pathway  to success. You are going to fall down a lot through this whole experience. Internships won’t call you back, the first real job you applied for has a better candidate, and inevitably you’ll get a C in a class that you tried your hardest in. It only teaches you better ways to do things, you will learn what your strengths are; as well as your weaknesses.

College has taught me the value of time. It has taught me the importance of balance in life. It has allowed me to enjoy alone time. Most importantly college has made me realized how blessed I am for the life I live. It was opened my eyes to so many opportunities and a chance at a better life ahead.

Freshman to Senior before you know it.

 

At what point do you start to realize that since freshman year you have completely transitioned? Today, I took the shuttle for the first time since I have moved out of the dorms. Not only was I surrounded by girls actually put together on a Friday morning, but I was listening to them talk about the week long alcohol bender they have been on. One girl was even talking to her friend about the boy she recently met, seeming optimistic about it going somewhere.

Being young and naive as a freshman is something you should take full advantage of. You presume in these four years your life is going to change completely. You are surrounded by a new group of boys your age! With each month that passes you assume you will find a new love, one you can tell your kids about when your older. You assume that you will be going across the world, studying abroad for at least one semester. Spring breaks every year sound like a given. Dressing up for class every morning… easy. Studying still doesn’t seem like the most frustrating thing in the world, because whether you want to admit it or not the challenge of studying for you first college exams is sort of exciting. You think frat parties will change your life and create a whole new group of “cool” friends for you. Being a freshman you have the energy and exhilaration to part take in week long benders, afraid to miss out on the smallest thing. As a freshman, you conform to whatever group of friends you meet- even picking up the slang they use.

Senior year tends to be a little different. Class is at 9:30, I’ll roll out of bed at 9:00 to leave my house my 9:15. Instead of feeling that you need to find your love in college, you realize you only moved into another small town that doesn’t define the rest of your life in the slightest way. Half the guys you thought were remarkably attractive your freshman year, are now only average (and your best friend who you would never date). You realize classes can be harder than you thought, and studying abroad isn’t always an option. Money is extremely tight and you will be lucky if you even get to go on spring break with your friends once. The overwhelming feeling of being completely over the past four years of school work has taken over, and even 10 minutes of studying gives you a headache… but you know this is it and you have to push through it. You realize frat parties are actually the worst thing in the world. Drinking for even three days straight hurts every nerve and muscle in your body. Most importantly, you find who you are. You know the people you want to have in your life after college and the people you will want to get away from,you find your values and ethics, and most importantly you realize how much of your life you have ahead of you after you leave college. This isn’t the end of anything, it’s the beginning of a whole new life.

You see, you have no idea what lays ahead of you the next four years. So to all you underclassmen out there, take full advantage of going out every night and thinking the boy (or girl) you met the night before might be the one. After four years, it might all change, but this is the only time you have to be this naive in a setting where it is accepted. One day, you’ll realize that all the time you’ve wasted and spent out has actually lead you to be the person that you want to be. Each step you’ve taken in your college town is a lesson for your future, and a chance to become the person you will be proud of.

10 Things To Do Before You Leave College

Well… the end of an era is coming, but did you really do everything you wanted too? Have you made the best out of all the benefits college gives you? You don’t want to leave college realizing you could have made your experience that much better. If you haven’t done these things yet, I suggest you start now. Especially if you’re in your last semester!

1.Thank your friends for quite possibly giving you the best four years of your life.

When you enter your freshman year of college you have both literally and figuratively left your family from your hometown, the family you were born into and the family of friends you’ve had your entire life.  Somehow upon entering this new home, you’ve stumbled upon a group of friends that accepts your weird accent, your weird hometown habits, and your crazy personality. These strangers somehow made you feel at home right away, and made the transition turn from petrifying to exciting. They’ve seen you at your worst as well as your best, and still somehow never left your side. If you’ve read this and thought of someone; it is time to thank them right now.

2. Sit down at your favorite spot on campus with a friend, and go through a flashback of all the things you’ve done over the past 4 years.

After all the craziness you’ve encountered over the last four years, you have undoubtedly forgotten about some of the things that have gone down. Grab your best friend who has been there with you through it all, and just sit in the middle of campus with them. Play the remember when game, you will be surprised at how much she could remember that you forgot. I can promise you a day full of laughter, and maybe a little embarrassment.

3. Thank the professors that have actually made an impression on you.

We’ve all had those professors that nearly bore you tears. We’ve all had those professors that you will never have a connection with because you have completely different views, or because they come into class without a real plan everyday. But what about the professors that have actually made an impression on you? These are the professors that are leading you where you want to go in life. They are looking out for your best interest, and your future means just as much to them as it does to you. This is rare this happens, and this is why it is completely necessary to say a simple “Thank you”. These professors should have expanded your mind, or turned you in a direction that was better for you. Without you even knowing, they could have made one of the biggest impacts in your life.

4. Have a giant sleepover with your friends.

This is the last time in your life that you will live in this close of proximity to the rest of your friends. How could you not take advantage of that? This time next year, we will all be in completely different spots with our lives. We will no longer be able to go out on weekdays, or therefore see each other every weekend. We will all make separate groups of friends, or end up back in our hometown with our old friends. Make as many memories as possible with the friends you have now.

5. Eat at your favorite local spot as often as possible.

You are in the last year of being able to wake up at 12:45 P.M., and order a breakfast sandwich over the phone, just to crawl back into bed. Sad to say, but not many towns have a place like this right around the corner. Right now, your diet might be telling  you to stay away from it. But, think about how much you’ll regret it four months from now when your craving that breakfast sandwich that you can no longer order.

6. Take a nap whenever you get the chance.

When will you be able to nap everyday in the middle of the day again?! We will most likely all be working 7-5 jobs or so. We won’t be able to stay up all night anymore, knowing that we have an 8 A.M. in the morning but can nap after because our next class isn’t until 4:00. Our whole day is about to be spent in an office, so soak up those ZZZ’s while you can!

7. Talk to your “secret class crush”

That kid that has been in your classes for the last couple years that you’ve been constantly staring at and secretly crushing on, is about to be out of your life for good. Unless of course, you take the initiative for a simple “hello”. Maybe it won’t go anywhere, or maybe it will. But either way, looking back on that boy when your older will put a pain in your chest knowing that things could have gone differently if you just stood up and said a simple word. If not  love, maybe a great friendship will come from it. Start taking the chances before your college days run out.

8. Explore the surrounding areas

Every college campus has something beautiful around it, whether it’s an ocean, a city line, mountains, or a beautiful park. One day in the future, you will tell someone where you went to college and they will ask you about a beautiful spot. You will sit there in “awe” wondering why you’ve never gone there before. Explore the beautiful buildings, the woods, the museums, all historical landmarks, and adventure into the abyss.

9. Abuse all the perks you get from having a student ID

We’re college students, we are expected to be broke. Once we leave college, we are expected to have a good job and enough money to pay off college loans month by month. We are supposed to be “functioning members of society” if you will. No longer can we get 50% off for college students, so buy everything you can for a discounted price when you still can.

10. Do something completely out of your boundaries, frowned down upon by all school officials.

College is about exploring and pushing the boundaries. Before you leave, you have to do at least one thing that no one but your friends would approve of. Later in life, you’ll laugh about it and it will make for a great story. So go streaking, have sexual relations in a study room, funnel a beer in the library, or do something that gets your heart pumping out of your chest. Believe me, the adrenaline rush is worth the story.