Without a traditional graduation and the end of senior year festivities that lead up to it, high school seemed to slip away. One day I was watching my teachers through my computer screen, and the next I woke up as a high school graduate. I had always thought of graduation as a magical rite of passage, the official transition into adulthood, but despite having decorated my cap and ironed my gown, I didn’t feel much different the day I picked up my diploma. I yearned for more time, the opportunity to thank my teachers in person, a chance to say goodbye to people I might never see again. In short, a different ending.
With such an unexpected end to the year, it was easy to get caught up in the emotions that sudden change brings- fear, grief, uncertainty. It was also easy to wish for the sudden ability to time travel as a way of thwarting what was already unfolding. But all of those emotions were masking what was the most important thing that came out of this spring: gratitude. Instead of falling into the trap of thinking about what could have been, I began shifting my focus to what is. I began reflecting upon the great three full years I did have, the lessons I’d learned, the goals I’d reached, and all of the lasting memories I’d made. It wasn’t an overnight transition, but changing the way I viewed the unconventional last few months has made all the difference. In the end, it’s your perspective that matters.
Looking forward to the year ahead, I couldn’t be more excited to have a chunk of time that I’m able to dedicate solely to my interests, both those that already exist and those that are yet to be discovered. Taking a gap year is something I’ve always had in the back of my mind, but the year I’ve planned looks almost nothing like the year I would have planned six months ago. I’ve had to be creative in my planning, which has stretched me to consider new local and virtual opportunities.
This summer, one of the things I’ve had the most fun with is learning how to use Adobe Illustrator through an online community college class. I might not have explored graphic design this deeply otherwise, and this last month I’ve gained useful skills while really enjoying the process. While I’m not living out my dream of traveling the world, I am engaged in a different kind of exploration: an eternal one. Perspective is key.