I’ve crossed a threshold. The minute I pranced across that resurrected stage in the middle of the football field and shook the President’s hand, I crossed over an imaginary line from days of dressing like a ballerina and dreaming of being a princess into the world of job applications, apartment rent, and alumni tee-shirts.
Somehow, in these past 22 years, I’ve grown up. I went from watching The Little Mermaid until the VHS tape ran out, to sending endless resumes and cover letters to huge corporates in New York City. I’ve gone from falling asleep under the violet printed comforter in my childhood baby-pink bedroom, to anticipating a move into an apartment with a roommate, complete with my own sets of dishes and hand towels.
Somehow, when the caps and tassels went spinning wildly into the air, I switched over to the “other side.” Somehow, I entered “adulthood.”
And the minute we turned our tassels from right to left, and were met with a hearty “congratulations” from the countless academics, we were able to let the smiles spread across our faces and whisper, “We made it.”
“After the banquets. Rehearsals. Fiestas. Siestas. After the stage grows quiet and the valedictorian steps up to speak. After you check your phone to find texts from your family sitting proud in the crowd. Mom is hooting loud. Your sister is tearing up in the third row. Grandma has a new dress on. After you stand up. Walk down the aisle. Up the stairs. Shake the President’s hand. Smile for the snapping of the photo. And walk across the stage into the After. The After College Life. The After Dorm Life. The After Studying for Finals Until 4AM. The After This… This very thing you called Your World for 4 years, 1,460 days, and however many hours you never thought to count.”
This is for the after. And making all the memories count. For remembering the all night study sessions, and the 2AM drives to walk along the beach. Remembering the friends you made during Freshman year, and whether they stuck with you to the very end. For remembering the sporting events, and charity volunteering, and all those measly meals you consumed in the dining halls. For walking through the greenery and tulips of the campus. For all the stupid comments you made, and all the knowledge you gained, and all the “I love you’s” and “I’ll miss you’s” and “Good luck’s” you uttered when hugging each other in blue gowns and caps.
And this is for the best that is yet to come. For the full-time jobs, new apartments, new colleagues and friendships. For more schools, and more degrees, and more learning and growing. This is for the after, the adulthood, for making those dreams you worked so hard to achieve come true. This is for crossing the threshold, coming into a new side of life, but never forgetting where you came from, for never letting the girl who wanted to be a mermaid fall away. For daring to dream every second of every day, and letting your eyes sparkle at the thought of capturing the world to put inside your pocket.