Photos taken by Xander.
I graduated college two weeks ago and now that it’s all over, the first question friends and coworkers asked after congratulating me was, "So what's next?!" And to be honest, I'm not positively sure where this degree will take me, but I am certain my destination will be somewhere I can utilize the knowledge, skills, and talents that I've worked so hard to improve all these years. It’s weird to speak on this topic because quite frankly I’ve never been a fan of school. Traumatized by some of the negative experiences from middle and high school, my hopes and positive outlooks of 'the' college-life before I attended wasn’t the same after my first semester. I thought I was going to participate in the campus community, clubs, attend the various on-campus events, and find many friends whom I’d keep in touch with for years to come. I thought I would fit in. As they say, college friends are the ones who will stick with you. But it turned out to be a scene that I just wasn't truly feeling connected to. It wasn't because I didn't fit in, but I thought of it as this kind of this lifestyle that I was faking myself into doing just because I've heard so much about it. After my first year I became a basic (but not quite your average) full time commuting student and part time retail associate.
After 4.5 years of stressful days balancing school and work, I did it. I finally finished my business undergrad studies and walked that stage. For a long time I didn't want to walk and it wasn’t until a month before graduation that I decided I was going to. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts' US Senator had a very down-to-earth speech at my graduate commencement. She expressed that we should not be ashamed or afraid of not knowing where we will be in the next few years after college. Because it's not about the destination, but the journey that we take to find our true selves and purpose in life. She took the words right out of my mouth. With jobs being harder to find even with college degrees, but not saying it's impossible to become employed, it takes a lot of dedication and commitment to yourself to find your niche. And let's be honest, figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life in early adulthood can be very intimidating for most people. I give credit to those who have worked their butts off to get that interview, to get that opportunity, and to get that job they've always wanted. I also give kudos to those who were able to balance multiple part-time or full time jobs with school.
As I mentioned earlier I went to school full-time and each semester was the same schedule as the last with classes Tuesday's and Thursday's from 8:00am to 5:00pm with maybe an hour or two break in between. And I was exhausted at the end of those days! On days I didn't have class I would be at work and pick up any shifts I could. And if I was at neither location, I would be at home working on the loads of homework, stressing myself out. There was never a stress-free moment unless it was winter, spring, or summer break. I recently learned that high levels of stress can trigger a skin condition that I have and it's become more prominent in the past few years for me (no) thanks to difficult courses, stressful job interview processes, etc. However, I am not ready to share these personal details about my condition so let's move on.
For my graduation, I wore this adorable dress from Windsor, an online boutique that recently opened a store near my workplace. I walk by it all the time on my lunch and I can never resist going in to browse. I decided it would be the best place for me to find a dress. My sister helped me try on 5+ dresses and I wasn't quite satisfied with most until I was about to check out and found this beautiful white and blue dress hanging behind the counter. It was a dress they have yet to add to the floor and I loved it.
I will not let this degree define me, but I will define what it means to me.