Pomp and Circumstance

The 20s are all about moving on with your life. As every year comes to an end we have to say goodbye to some of the people in our lives for a variety of reasons. People go home, people graduate, people get jobs - people just MOVE. Commencement season is a tricky thing (every news feed you subscribe to is filled with nothing more than cap and gowns, cords and stoles) with an accompanying mixed bag of emotions. No matter where you are in your life or in your college experience, moving means something. It can be all fancied up or super plain and simple. Either way it comes with it's own pomp and circumstance.

College graduation ceremonies are truly impressive feats. The fact that you've made it through this level of education is cause for celebration (it's a struggle and a half, let's be real) but the ceremony in and of itself must be like Kristin Chenoworth in 12 Men of Christmas (Lifetime movies had me like ...) in the finicky details to be coordinated. All the decorations, the precise timing of the procession and all the scripts that have be written, I cannot even imagine what it takes to put it all together. It is totally rewarding though that your university sends you off with as much excess as possible (now slide that budget towards my tuition or my student loans and we'd be all good). I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my school's commencement ceremony this year and it truly was a memorable experience. To see parents, siblings, and family (blood or chosen) come to together to celebrate the students they supported was heartwarming. The pride and excitement people had to be there was absolutely unreal. Everything was so regal. There was this expectation of greatness and that this moment, that is the movement of the tassles, was the end of something big but an even bigger beginning to something ... the rest of these people's lives.

The commencement keynote speaker was Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Her speech coincidentally touched upon a topic that I had been discussing with people throughout the year. Are we, as Americans, tasked with aiding others outside of our country when there are still heinous disparities within our country? The answer, yes and no. We are all human and we're obligated to help others in need, if we feel so inclined. We often get stuck on this notion that we're just one insignificant person and because of that we cannot create notable changes and therefore we shouldn't try at all. That's where our logic is flawed, we have to think smaller and do work within our own communities and understand that very few people get to be in positions of power that are able to make monumental changes (and that's okay). If you get to be one of those people (many a person have told me I'm destined to be one of those prominent figures and I have this inkling feeling that they are correct ... we'll see) great, but that doesn't make you any better than anyone else. You do what you can to improve the world and know by your action that you are bringing hope for not only yourself but others around you. No matter what you choose to do, just do something.  The ambassador's speech really resonated with me (also her finesse for throwing shade in the middle of her speech to tyrannical oppressors in foreign nations and our own problematic government) and soon the entire thing was nearly over. They announced the winners of the senior words and I almost lost it when both my friends Dae-Dae and Maché were called out of the sea of caps and gowns to stand on stage and be recognized for their contributions to the university and embodiment of growth. It was awe-inspiring, I was getting emotional because I felt so much for them. They truly deserved it and it was an honor just to be able to see them up there. Those two, I promise you, will be at the forefront of changing the world. The ceremony concluded and a wave of chaotic reunions ensued. All the pomp and circumstance was just getting started.
College is traditionally a four year period but that's not always the case. Some programs take longer than others and things happen that require students to take extra time to complete their degrees. I had spent the morning with Dom and let me tell you it was definitely tough seeing the impact of watching his classmates graduate had on him. I could only empathize but in our walk back to the apartment it was a space for him to share what he was feeling and it was an understandably mixed bag of emotions. The pomp and circumstance of the day was indirectly for him and at the same time it wasn't. I believe things happen for a reason and that is meaning in everything that happens. Often we are unaware of what's best for us and in the long run things usually work out. That's what I hope for him, and those in similar situations. The day concluded with the arrival of my fraternal little brother, David. We ordered Chinese, hung out, and caught up on life. Monday came around and that was a big packing day for all of us. Dom was moving out, and David and I were moving to a residence hall to start orientation leader trainer. It was a bittersweet morning that represented all of us starting the next phase of our summers. A quick shopping trip for a fan, snacks, and other things and it was time for the pomp and circumstance of summer to kick off. Into a circle we entered and sat as I literally watched as the cast of characters in my life story be changed right before my eyes for the next six weeks. I chose Ben (who I'll refer to as Benjy) as my high-five buddy. Icebreakers, teambuilders, and logistics aside it was soon time for bed. Tuesday morning was an early one to say the least and the 49 of us hopped into vans to head to a ropes course (you know my ass was not about it all). We did some more icebreakers and soon we were trekking through the woods. My group was challenged with some group activities and I had to fully trust other people (Drake "Trust Issues" plays in the background) and it was absolutely terrifying. I just did it. I closed my eyes, got on my hands and knees, let go and went to work. I swung on a rope swing and was in the tightest embrace of my life. We did trust falls and I was partnered with Sierra who I just let catch me and believe it or not, she was there. Little did she or anyone else know how formative that experience would be for me. We walked on these wires balancing on one another and ended up going the furthest even though I had verbalized just how afraid and uneasy I was. We equalized ourselves on a giant balance beam and hung out. It was a powerful morning. I wasn't in control and for once, I was okay with it. I didn't need the pomp and circumstance (read pretentiousness) and that was a change. I knew from then on my orientation leader experience was going to be one to remember.

My blog post question for the day is ... what did/will you put on your graduation cap? I'll probably make a social media reference (maybe have my LinkedIn url or my twitter handle) #totally me


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