g r a d u a t e d. 🎓✨

So 6 days ago I graduated from The Undergrad Experience™.

Today marks the 60-something day I’ve spent in my smol apartment quarantine.

I was blessed with clear skies and a friend with great artistry to help me document the moment in my grad regalia on a barren campus in 49 degree weather. She captured what felt like an hour of “normalcy” — normal grad pics, normal “culminating hoorah”. The bursting forth of joy for all of the love for the people, places, and experiences I’ve been so lucky to have for the past 4 years.

As I watch us all having our own celebrations… at home, with family, virtually… it’s hard not to be filled with a gratitude that extends beyond the normal huzzah hurray pomp n circumstance that comes with this rite-of-passage kind of ceremonial time.

My youngest brother is also graduating high school and I can’t imagine how hard this is. For people in these shoes who had planned for things to go a certain way, only to have the red carpet kind of yanked out from under them. But the joy and resilience and comfort and closeness that this time has brought us… I think, is, in a way, a grad gift of its own.

Not many will be able to tell their future offspring that, during a worldwide pandemic, they graduated anyway. Not many will be able to say that, despite this mass migration to online learning in classrooms over Zoom and WebEx that feel so foreign and cold and exhausting [esp. when you have one after the other!] but yet oddly comforting as you see the faces of others going through it like you… that you did it anyways.

The days feel like mini rollercoasters, blending together in a rush that feels like a lifetime but also a few minutes– some days are better than others, more creative than others, more positive than others.

And some are days where you just want to roll up in a ball and not do anything but binge watch your favorite series on Netflix for all 8 hours you’re awake.

Taking time to write down and document the present moment helps. Taking time to look around at all the *new* things, the new concepts and ways of life, the habits that you’ve come to cultivate, the practice you’ve had at giving yourself the time and space to actually heal with good habits, with a focus towards turning in & tuning in to what’s really going on.

This time has been a gift, and continues to be so— even as people throw around talk of “returning to normal” or “re-opening”– we’ve spent so much time re-doing, re-learning, re-imagining… I don’t think it will ever truly go “back to normal”. Which is a blessing, I think. So much of all this has transformed the way we think about public health, about the Internet [as a FRICKING UTLITY!], about our work-life balance, about how we treat eachother, how we “show up” for one another even if we can’t do it physically.

I think all of us graduated this year.
We’ve graduated from our old lives.

We’re walking across a stage that’s intimidating and scary with the fear of stumbling.

But we’re walking towards something greater than ourselves.

xx

we did it (:

Tassels Transferred + An Update

I’m still kinda in denial.
Graduation was basically a week ago, but somehow I can’t get over the fact that I won’t be waking up at 7:30 every morning next year… In my house, with my parents and siblings…
With no one telling me what to do when, who to see when, when to go to sleep and when to wake up….
Walking across the stage was surreal… But perhaps the craziest part that will remain vivid in my mind forever was when we first filed in the gymnasium. We were in alphabetical order, and I was, as always, at the end of the line to go in. But when the back end of us finally entered in the doors, we were met with thunderous, standing applause from every wall of bleachers… It was so powerful, to look around and see all of these people who have basically built us to be who we are now clapping and cheering, exclaiming their pride on two feet with vigorous applause, seeming to say “we’re so proud of you, this is your moment, you made it, congratulations, it’s all gonna change soon but we’re gonna be here, cheering you on”. It made me choke up, not gonna lie.
And the air conditioner didn’t die! For once… And I didn’t mess up my senior solo, and I didn’t trip walking up to the stage or back from it….
Afterwards my family and I went to one of my favorite small restaurant spots with awesome Mediterranean cuisine, and my mom tried to buy me a drink, asking the waitress “how old do you have to be to drink?” Which made me laugh because she grew up with the drinking age as 18 instead of today’s age, 21. And me, being 19, didn’t get a drink that day.
And so here I am.
I’m a teenager in limbo. Not a student, not a full fledged adult (I mean, I’m 19, technically an adult.. But then adults don’t blow off their taxes for 9 months and quit their jobs to go on vacation…or do they?)
Speaking of quitting work… My family is gonna go to the beach this Saturday, with my widowed grandmother. It’ll be the last normal family vacation for a whiiiiile, but my boss would flip his little bipolar lid if he lost me for two weeks. But it’s okay, because I was kinda done with the drama at the place I worked anyways.. Who knew a mini soap opera could exist within a family-owned Italian restaurant…
I write now in the middle of no-where Maryland, from  the house of my grandmother sandwiched in between a creek and a river. My mom planned to visit her mom for two reasons– 1) to just provide some company for her since she’s a little lonely, and 2) to coax her into actually coming to the beach with us this is weekend.
She used to go with her husband in September, after the intense tourism waves, in a more low-key part of Delaware. But ever since her husband passed away, she says she hasn’t really been able to wrap her mind about going back. And I don’t blame her– it must be so hard to go back to a place that you used to visit with the love of your life by your side for 50 years or so straight…
But she has made comments about being half way willing recently, and my mom is using these two days to connect with her and help tip the scale.
And my siblings and I are just along for the ride. I appreciate getting away from everything for a bit– it’s peaceful here, and I spent many hours (for the first time in a while) outside fishing! I feel kind of fuzzy and big sisterly for the first time in a while too, as I taught Boo how to cast off with a fishing pole for the first time, on the same ground where I learned from my uncle. So there’s that.
Despite the peaceful atmosphere and the big sister vibe however.. I scrambled this morning to register for my fall classes… And boy did my upcoming college adventure hit me hard.. I had to sit down and plan all my classes out on paper and do the best I could to choose my classes via the website ON MY PHONE because I did not have a computer. That kind of sucked… But it made me think so hard about the year ahead, and further texting sprees with my awesome room mate made it all so real to me–the fact that I’ll be moved out of my home at the end of August, 3 hours away with a(n amazing) girl I’m just now getting to really know, and that  for once I’ll be embarking on a personalized educational journey of mostly my creation… It’s just a bit overwhelming at times. In a good way.
But when it all became too much and I wanted to throw my phone at the wall for the lack of service and battery power, I just had to stop and go outside, and I helped a lot. Being out here watching an amazing sunset was just all around healing.
Annnnnd here are some shots I got from today!

 

 

I’ve got one more day here, then last day at work on Wednesday, and then I pack for the beach, get stabbed with immunizations, attempt to watch Finding Dory in theatres before I don’t see J for a month…
And then I’ll be going down for orientation soon.
It’s crazy how fast the time flies and will fly…
And all I can do is attempt to reel it back in as slowly as I can.
xoxo,
Steph