It is now time to accept that the beginning has ended. The end has begun. The middle is relegated to fond memory—or maybe the middle is a mixture and you are still left wondering what it was. Or perhaps the whole thing is all jumbled. Do you feel mixed up inside? Are you wondering what just happened, as you step out of the car, shaking, and realizing that you were moving so fast that the view was too blurry in parts for you to remember at all?
Within the confines of your mind, the culmination of these past four years colors you anew. You are a happier person, maybe, or maybe sadder. Maybe more at peace, or maybe more anxious. Perhaps you are angry; perhaps you are heartbroken. Perhaps you are heart-full and ecstatic. Hopefully you are jumping with joy. Hopefully you’ve learned a lot about many things and many people have learned a lot from you. Most likely, all of this has been inside you at some point these past four years, and some of it has remained inside you and become a part of you.
But you’ve been on one of the longest car rides of your life. This car ride was four years long, no stops. So as you step out of the car, put all of this aside for a moment.
Hold up your hands. Look at them. There, on the side of the road, a pond. Go and stare at the reflection of your hands. Your face. Your arms and legs. Get into the water, let it pool around you. Hold your head under and listen to the silence. Soak in the water and let your aching body rest.
People who drive on the road will stop their cars. They will get out and approach the water, they will ask you when you are planning on getting out. Smile at them. Ask them, “When are you planning on finding a pond of your own to soak in?” Perhaps they will surprise you.
Forgive me, for I sometimes believe that I am capable of poetry. Seniors, when you walk across the stage at graduation, only one thing is true: You have finished four years of work. The work involved shaping and forming—it involved building and informing—it involved processing, reflecting, sharing, failing and succeeding.
For some of you, the work was not as tiresome as for others. That does not mean that nothing was accomplished; indeed, if you can hold your head up high and point to the things that have been awakened in you, the things you have learned and processed and the ideas that you yourself have grown, you will know that you have done work, and the work did a part of you, too. You probably feel satisfied with yourself. Good. You should.
The problem is, for many of you, that is what these four years were—work. Sure, you took summers “off,” probably to do more work so you could pay to do the work you would do at school again next year. Sure, the weekends were probably memorable ones, and maybe some of the weeknights. And no, you did not spend every waking moment actually working, but full-time students know that time off is simply time putting work off.
Why is this a problem? Isn’t four years of work a rewarding idea? Shouldn’t I say, “Seniors, pat yourselves on the back. You’ve done a great thing, hooray!”
Well, I do say that! Four years of work is a rewarding idea, and graduating is now a great reward.
That is why, seniors, as you get out of the car for the first time in four years, the first thing you must do is drop everything you just spent your four years doing and get in the pond. Because the time you spend now relaxing is the time that will launch you into what you’ve prepared for for these four years.
Max Bruns is a senior HAB, English and philosophy triple major. He is the outgoing Distribution Manager for the Newswire from Cincinnati.