That time of year has come again, as it always does. The school year is ending and if you’re not graduating from high school, college, graduate school, or some other program, surely you know somebody who is. What an emotional time… nostalgia, fear, pride, anxiety, excitement and probably a thousand other words describe what we’re all feeling right now.
In light of this cornucopia of emotions, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to put into writing a famous Mama Leah pep talk. Here it is.
Endings are hard. They’re scary because we are so comfortable now and we fear the unknown. We realize how possible it is to be excited and terrified for the future at the same time. It’s a lot of emotions to juggle, and that’s not even to mention the emotions toward what we’re leaving behind.
What you’re leaving behind has defined you. It has informed you. It has illuminated your days for quite a while now, and you’re afraid for that light to disappear because you don’t know what the darkness looks like. Again, we fear the unknown. But think about this transition the way you’d think about the lights of a city. During the day, your surroundings are totally visible thanks to the sun. There’s no reason to be afraid because you know exactly what to expect, and that’s an awesome thing. And then the sky begins to change, whether you’re ready or not. Suddenly what was bright blue becomes navy, pink, purple sunset. With or without your permission, the sky has changed. The sun that has lit up your days for so long is going down. For a brief moment in time, it’s gone.
And that’s when you see the city lights.
These magical, multi-colored earthly stars have replaced your big and bright sun. You find that there’s still light; it just looks a little bit different now. Instead of one big shining ball of fire to show you the way, you can choose from a million tiny headlights, streetlights, or storefronts to lead you down an infinite number of paths. These smaller lights don’t show you everything at once, because that’s not what you need anymore. But they are so wonderfully beautiful.
Think of all of the most important things that will ever happen to you- whether that means having a family, getting your dream job, traveling the world… think of the things that you hope you’ll remember when you reach the end of life. What if most of those things haven’t even happened yet?
This is just the beginning. Leaving what you know, what has surely defined you and informed you and supported you for so long, is tough. But if you don’t leave now, how will you ever follow the city lights toward the great adventures life has in store for you?
After graduating college I was supremely stuck between two potential paths for my next year, and I spent hours upon hours trying to determine the right decision; after all, this could influence the path of the rest of my life. Finally, I came to a conclusion and I haven’t looked back since. But what that decision gave me, even more than my totally life-altering year in Boston, was a realization.
To quote myself: “I have one last thing to say. Life is awesome. Because no matter what’s happening right now… we get to have hope.”
Anything can happen. Today you may have to say goodbye, but maybe tomorrow will be the best day of your life. This is an ending, and it’s important to take the time you need to let go. But think of this as your sunset- your gorgeous, surreal, deeply beautiful sunset. And have hope, because you never know what might happen when you see those city lights.