It felt like a stark blow in the stomach. For a second I felt disoriented.
I didn’t expect it, not at all. Even though it had been in the air for weeks: Graduation. Freedom. Accomplishment. Success.
For them. Not me. I started at university almost 3 years ago, and was expected to get my bachelors degree, like all my classmates, this month. Family, acquaintances are always asking how it’s going with the education, how far along I am. When they hear it’s been 3 years, they go “So aren’t you supposed to graduate this year?”.
It’s a long time since it was evident that I’d had to extend my education, and though it’s not what I prefered to do, it was necessary under the circumstances*.
*The circumstances being me getting seriously sick with multiple UTI’s (and lots of antibiotics) in a few months, two periods with severe depression, mononucleosis as well as a broken finger and knee surgery, which sucks when you’re a sports science student whose education is partly physical.
I’ve been okay with that fact for a while. When I say I’m okay with it, I’m not saying I don’t have regrets, worries and ‘what ifs’ whirling around in my head. I used to be a high achiever in school, but now I just want to get through. I’ve just come to accept that it can’t be any other way, and so I better make the best of it instead of dwelling on the things I could have done better. I’m already having classes with the students who started a year later than me, there’s some nice people among them, and I look forward to graduating with them.
But it still felt like a blow to the stomach when I logged into social media to see the long stream of friends and former classmates celebrating graduation. Suddenly all the ‘could have beens‘ were staring me right in the face. I felt angry at myself for struggling to be happy on their behalf. I felt sad that it wasn’t me, and that I still have so long to go.
If you, for whatever reason, didn’t get to graduate with your classmates, please take of yourself. Maybe you’ve been through a lot worse stuff compared to mine. Maybe you haven’t. But that’s not relevant because this isn’t the Struggle Olympics, and no matter why, this can be tough to go through. Your feelings are understandable and valid. My advice to you, if you’re in this situation, is to try to limit how exposed you are to others celebrations. At least at first. Take a break from social media to process what’s going on in your head, and congratulate people when you’re ready.
There’s an infinite amount of roads to happiness and success (and they’re not always the same). Maybe they aren’t even destinations you can arrive at, but something that only shows up in small, fleeting moments.
There’s so much more to life than education. Things doesn’t always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work out for the better in the end.
I just want you to know that you’re not alone. You’re never alone.