It was ten after eight and we were running a little late.
"Just pull over here! We have to run!"
My best friend hates being late.
Quickly I grabbed my cap and gown, discarded my coat, and bailed out of the car after her boyfriend.
So many faces making their way towards the arena and I held a piece of her gown in my fingers while trying to fix my hair around the awkward cap.
I had drank the night before and my stomach wasn't happy.
I had only drank one cup of coffee and my head wasn't happy.
We made our way over to the College of Arts and Sciences table and collected our number.
With last names different, we weren't sitting together, but she and I navigated our way to the bathroom and then our respective lines
Navigating much as we had done together in the last three years of college.
I sat amongst the others in a sea of black.
A little over 1000 of us total.
Faces of families blurred together in the endless mass.
There, in the far corner-mom, her boyfriend, grandma, grandpa, L., and his mom.
My six seats of pride.
I could feel them glowing as they scanned the bobbing caps for mine.
Our senator spoke, something about preferring to try and fail then never trying at all.
The day before my former boss had pulled me into a warm hug, telling me never to settle for anything.
I could only see a few rows ahead, girls trying to fix their hair under the awkward caps.
Guys hunched forward or sitting tall.
All of us waiting, about to set off into the world.
In that moment I wondered to myself how many of us would settle.
I wondered who would have a beautiful life an who would strive only to gain nothing.
Would we marry and have children and work in the field that our degrees were meant for?
How many of us would be professionals in our field and how many would work somewhere completely unrelated?
Would we died young or live old?
No matter the destination we all sat, hopeful, anxious, smiling, and frowning.
All of us about to embark on a journey.
At first I had felt that maybe it wasn't such an achievement.
I mean, many people go to college, but as the administration called for my college to receive our diplomas, I felt a little pride begin to warm and grow.
My row rose , and with slight nervous anticipation, I straightened my cap, smoothed my gown, and stepped forward to accept what would be the first step into the professional world.
Being an adult.
The faculty members congratulated me and I realized then that What I had done was worth of pride.
I had spent many a night awake until four and five in the morning fighting depression, had weathered a divorce and mom's attempted suicide, an unhealthy relationship with a boyfriend that had gone to prison, had endured anxiety attacks, a relapse of anorexia, lost and gained friends, made many a poor choice and spent plenty of drunken nights on a floor or two.
I had studied abroad in Greece, held many great leadership positions, worked while going to school, been accepted into graduate school, and decided to recover.
When I finally found my family once we were dismissed I looked at my mother.
Gosh. She was so proud of me.
"Don't cry mom," I said as I took her in my arms and held her tight.
I don't think I've ever been so happy that I had made my family proud than the day I graduated valedictorian and the day I graduated college, about to move on to my masters.
The days that all that work and support was brought to fruition.
I couldn't have done it without them not by a long shot.
I didn't graduate with distinction but it didn't matter.
I'm really nervous, you know?
I've never done this whole growing up thing and I never believed I was going to recover from my ED or ever truly escape depression.
It's scary moving to a new place where I only have two acquaintances there and I don't fully know what to expect when I start my masters, but I'm hopeful.
I wanted things to work with that guy and in the end I learned that our choices have consequences, ones that you can't always fix or change.
Things have been aching and I've felt the fatigue of finals week and changes seep in.
I'm really nervous but I'm hopeful,
And sometimes that's all you need to be.