By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Staff Writer

 

It hit me this week that I only have 4 days of classes left in my undergraduate career. That means I only have 2 columns left before graduation. And while I have spent the better part of this semester praying for it to end, I am now wishing I had access to time’s brake handle so that I could pause the relentless turning of the calendar pages. I need more time; I am not ready to leave.

But this is not the time to say goodbye – I will leave that for my last and final piece. Now is the time to reflect, and to celebrate; something I unfortunately did not make enough time for throughout my college career.

A very good friend of mine told me a few months ago that she regretted not enjoying her accomplishments during their completion, and celebrating them after they were finished. This struck a chord with me, and is a piece of advice I have carried with me ever since. For I realized that I, too, often skipped the down time between the ending of one thing and the beginning of another in order to rush headlong into the next big thing. The next project, the next phase of my life was always just on the horizon, and I could never seem to find the time to bring myself to look back and see how far I had come.

But, as my friend pointed out, it is these reflections on the journey, and the joy from the travels, that can provide real moments of growth and learning. It is here that we find ourselves building self-confidence and connections; where we allow our ego to soak in everything we have achieved. I had rarely, if ever, allowed this to happen; and for this reason, I am scared that I passed over many moments that could have been better spent in the past three and a half years.

Before I started college, my world was much smaller than it is now. Since the fall of 2010, I have been able to embrace the full analytical rigors of a liberal arts education. I have gone from barely being able to run three miles to running two Tough Mudders, a half marathon, and several other races in between. I have studied, explored, worked in, volunteered in, and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful city that is Detroit. I have traveled down the Pacific Coast, through the subway tunnels of New York City, wandered around Chicago, and even made the trip to Italy to dig up an ancient city. I have learned, seen, and done so much in the past three years, but I have rarely sat back and reflected on these accomplishments as a whole entity.

Graduating college is a BIG deal, and I have been treating as a “so what?” type of thing, a notch on my timeline that will be soon covered up by the next stage of my life. But I have been trying to make a conscious effort to take things slow, to spend more time with family and friends instead of worrying about school too much. Because I know these are the things I will remember when I look back at this time in my life; these are the things I want to remember. I need to remember.

I have no idea what my life will look like after the New Year, and I have strangely become okay with that fact. A person gets very few transition periods in their lifetime, so why not make the most of them? Time to read that stack of books gathering dust on my desk, take fitness classes I have never had time for, sleep in, and maybe cook meals that take longer than 15 minutes to make. My friend was right – without those quiet times, without those in between moments, you get lost in the rat race. You get immediately sucked back into the madness. I have done that for far too long; I do not want to make that mistake again.

 

So to all my fellow graduates – this is your time. You have worked your asses off to get here, and you should be proud of all you have done to make it to this moment. This is your time –enjoy it. Treasure it. Celebrate it. You deserve to give yourself at least that.

As for me? I will continue my journey towards the horizon…but I will be walking instead of running for now. Looking back is not a hard thing to do, and the road will still be there ahead to continue on, no matter how long you pause to survey the road behind.

“The road goes ever on and on / Down from the door where it began. / Now far ahead the road

has gone / And I must follow, if I can, / Pursuing it with weary feet / Until it joins some larger

way / Where many paths and errands meet. / And whither then? I cannot say.” – J.R.R. Tolkien