Graduations, for me, are like falling into a pond with all your clothes on. One moment, you’re standing there on the dock all confident and accomplished, totally self-satisfied, and the next, whoops, you’re swimming around, completely confused, wondering what the hell just happened.
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my first daughter was barely just a toddler, and I was admittedly a little lost at sea (to continue the water metaphor). A family friend took one look at me and told me, “Don’t worry. This doesn’t last forever. You’re not who you were, but you’re not who you’re going to be, either.”
I was a little jolted. After all, time for me had slowed to a dull tick, and it felt like I was going to be bloated, nursing, and sleep-deprived for all eternity.
Flash-forward five years, and I’m still sleep-deprived, and, okay, maybe still bloated, but I’m not the same person I was. I’m a debut author, for one thing, and I have three kids. Some of my dreams have come true, some have changed, some I’ve given up. I think I’ve become more compassionate, even if I’m still impatient, insecure, and sometimes a tad bit snarky. I crawled out of the pond, in other words, onto the other bank, and the view is a little different.
Isn’t that why we’re all on Facebook? (Well, I’m not, but that’s a different post.) College kids use it to hook up, meet up, keep up. It’s all immediate. Those of us who’ve already been for a dip or two in the waters of life, however, are simply trying to catch up, I think. Basically, once you head off into adulthood, you become a collection of walking, talking, unfinished stories, and after a while, the temptation to find out how they end becomes irresistable.
Whatever happened to your ex? Did your horrible, first boss ever get fired, too? Is the queen bee from your sorority fat now? If you’re anywhere near middle age, all you have to do is look in the mirror to see how many lifelines didn’t pan out, how many detours you took, how many lucky breaks you had that you didn’t see coming, how many other ones you would have had if you only knew then what you know now.
If I ever become really famous and am asked to give a commmencement address, I’m going to make it honest. You are not who you were, I will say, and you are not who you will become. As you age, try to resist Facebook. Those days are over. Don’t even try going backwards because that never works. Give up who you were, strip yourself down, and take the plunge. Swim straight for the other shore, and don’t be afraid, even if you are leaving good, solid ground.
In other words, come on in. It’s a little cold at first, but once you get your sea legs, I think you’ll find that the water’s just fine.