Graduation Gifts

Some advice upon reflection on my graduation from college and other major life events:

  1. Do NOT watch The Office finale the same week you graduated from college. It is a terrible idea that will end in tears.
  2. Do NOT think you are invincible or that you can keep at the same pace right after you graduate from college. You are more tired, more emotional, and more confused about where you are in life than you are willing to admit. Give yourself a break.
  3. Give yourself a break.
  4. Keep a list of important/meaningful/fun memories. Write it down because you’ll be thankful to go back and read it. Then next time you start a new chapter, start a new list. You will be thankful.
  5. Remind yourself again to give yourself a break.

Many people have asked me what my favorite memory is from Furman or who my favorite person was at work or what was the biggest lesson I learned in the last 4 years. I suppose I tried to evade the question because it still doesn’t seem real that it’s all over. However after some time to process, I’ve decided to stick by my original answer. I can’t choose. And I believe I can’t choose because it’s impossible to separate all that I’ve learned and experienced in the last 4 years. When you ask about one Furman memory, I automatically get hundreds that come into my mind at once. When you ask about Pelham Road folks, I get this beautiful collection of pictures in my head, similar to the collage of the body of Christ in the front lobby. And gosh, when you ask me what I’ve learned, I can’t even begin to find words to describe how I’ve changed and grown and grown up in the last 4 years. I think that is the most rewarding graduation gift of all (although I appreciate all of the other gifts I’ve received). Who I am today cannot be separated from my last 4 years. Everything I saw, heard, felt, and loved in the last 1362 days is now and forever a part of me. It’s a gift that does not have to be opened, a gift that cannot be returned, a gift that is far too great and wide to respond to with a thank you card.

And now that I’ve received this gift of 4 years of conversation and experience and support and failure and learning, I’ve been given a second gift. Time off. 6 weeks to rest and travel and reflect and repack and rest (did I say that before?). I will not waste it. And I will not abuse it by overshadowing this time with to do lists or meetings or projects. This break is a gift, one that I may not know how to use yet. No matter what you’re doing next, graduating or finishing up or moving on or waiting to hear or staying the same, take the time to be thankful for where you are and where you’ve been. Make lists of the memories. Stop and breathe every once and a while. Only watch The Office finale when you’re ready for it. Utilize the gifts we’ve been given, for they make us who we are. Just as Pam tells us in season 9 episode 23, “there’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”

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