June 29, 2021
(I actually graduated June 4th, but it's taken me about a month to collect myself amidst the aftermath of high school)
I had been working towards graduation day for 10 months, and it was a loooooong 10 months. My last year of high school was a constant battle filled with stress, tears, and therapists. I had to punt a lot of projects that I simply didn't have the time or energy to attempt. Graduating always felt so far off, even back in May when I only had a month left. There was always some sort of obstacle in the way, whether that was finals or projects or AP exams. A part of me believed I'd never make it to graduation, so I was honestly surprised when the day came. The ceremony itself was particularly short due to worries over covid and authorities not wanting to prolong the time students and families were gathered together. We sweated in our gowns, some speeches were garbled over a not-loud-enough speaker, names were called, tortillas were thrown (it's a school tradition), and it was over. It felt pretty anticlimactic after the struggle it took to get to this day.
When I was in elementary school, I had an after-school tradition. Every day when I got home from school I would pick out a Calvin and Hobbes book, pour myself a bowl of cereal (milk first), and then eat cereal and read comics for a good hour or so. I did this every day, so as you can imagine it didn't take too long before I'd gone through all of the Calvin and Hobbes books and had to start re-reading them. I probably read each book a dozen times over before I grew out of that tradition. When the time came to decorate my graduation cap, I chose to paint the last panel from the last strip of Calvin and Hobbes: let's go exploring!
Now that I've graduated, I expected life to be easier, smooth sailing. Instead I'm feeling overwhelmed again, I'm feeling depressed again, I'm feeling anxious again. I'm too ambitious. I'm too obsessed with my work. I want too much. I get lost in my own head too easily. Once upon a time life was as simple as comics and cereal and I didn't want anything.
If anything can be said for the past year, it's that it was enlightening. For better or for worse, I feel like I understand myself better than I ever have. I know when I'm stressing myself out and need a break. I know when I need to work and when I need to relax. When I feel hopeless I know that the feeling will pass. It's slow going, but I'm trying to get better. The world is still the same exciting, beautiful place I used to believe it was. One day I know I'll believe it again.
So yes, let's go exploring.