Graduation Anniversary

Mulling over the significance and personal impact of my college graduation — which happened a year ago last week — has largely dominated my internal monologue in the last twelve months.

I’ve never been big on anniversaries for anything. In high school, I laughed at couples who celebrated their “month-iversaries.” The anniversary of my mom’s death has become more meaningful as my memories of her fade, but that’s more about time passing in general than a specific number of days or months or years.

Even so, I vaguely expected (maybe hoped for?) some sort of insight from the arrival of the date marking one year since graduation. Some measure of closure, maybe. The core of my struggle has been the discrepancy between society’s high value and enthusiastic celebration of graduation (it’s the launching point for the entirety of your adult life!), and my contrasting spiral into a frustrated and confused depression upon experiencing said important life event. I still hate that I struggle so much to reconcile those perspectives, but I have gained — at the very least — some understanding of why it happened/is happening. I’m not quite ready to blog about those complex and deeply personal reasons (most of which are directly linked to my ego). But I can now express some hope for the future, which I was completely unable to do six months ago.

I’m sloooowly setting up a life in Nashville, and I carefully keep in mind things I can look forward to here:

  • I have friends from my restaurant job
  • I have several “friends of friends” connections that I can leverage to make more friends
  • I can afford my own apartment, which I am extremely excited to set up and decorate
  • I have several professional connections that I am hopeful will lead to a full-time job
  • Nashville always has fun events happening, and I know where and how to find them — and I have the energy to go! 
  • I have friends in nearby Chattanooga, friends with whom I can plan camping trips
  • I’m plugged into the UNC alumni community, through which I can make more friends
  • I know of several opportunities for the type of volunteering/community service that I enjoy
  • There are many cafes, restaurants, breweries and bars to check out — I’m far from being able to say what my favorite places are
  • I can run the Rock & Roll half marathon next year, with a better time — OR run the full marathon 🙂
  • Flying home is quick and easy
  • Nashville has so many pretty parks that are perfect for hammocking and reading
I guess what this list shows is that I’m learning how to focus on the future rather than the past. For me, graduation was like getting dumped — but I reacted like my boyfriend had died. It took me a long time to stop dwelling on the good times that were over. I’m still not completely healed, but I’ve trained my mind to not go there anymore, which helps me not hate life as I experience it. Quitting my first job and moving to Nashville was largely about gaining enough calm and space to rebuild a stable psyche, and I’m happy that I’ve been succeeding at meeting that fundamental need. Happy to report that emotional breakdowns are occurring no more than twice a month! Which is a huge improvement from every day, as it were in Austin. 
So….. one year after graduation, I can finally say: here’s to horizons, hazy as they may be.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Dec. 2015