Reinventing Yourself For the "Real World"

It's the beginning of April, and the reality that graduation is a little more than a month away is finally catching up to you. With thesis papers and final projects, every one of us is pressed for time, rushing through our last few months in college. And slowly, but surely, commencement day is approaching.

But what does graduation really mean for us seniors? Is it the day we throw our studies behind us and are free of homework and grades? Is it the day we part ways with friends and faculty we have grown close to for the past four years? Is it the day, that we finally, truly, become our own free woman?

Graduation is all of these things and more. It is a day to celebrate, a day to cherish how far we have come and what we have to look forward to.  It is the day we have full control of where we are going and who we want to be. It is the day we reinvent ourselves for the real world.

Marymount’s spring visiting poet Ethelbert Miller once compared himself to a vine that grew in total darkness. During his college years his light came from within — he created himself. In college we get a taste of independence, a taste of what it is like to create and live in our own worlds. It is a frightening time for many of us, as we struggle with loneliness and learn to do things on our own.

Graduating is like taking the next step, pushing ourselves back into the darkness after finally making it into the light. We are uncertain of who we are and what we are meant to do. We believe we all have a bigger purpose, but have no idea what that purpose is or where to look for it. Living in the real world will be like searching for ourselves in the dark. We will be pushed in ways we never understood and will be forced to grow, forced to find the spark within and shine.

When I think about who I want to be, I immediately think of what I love: animals, food, nature, art, filmmaking, fantasy, travel. I think about the people who inspire me, the women I strive to be like, and the places I strive to be in. When I put all these things together, in a diagram or by sketching these ideas out on a page, I see synchronicities. I admire Ellen DeGeneres because she is caring and kind, an animal activist, vegan, and TV and film celebrity. In many ways, she encompasses many of the talents and traits I would like to harness within myself, and she flourishes because of these talents and traits. For me Ellen is a model of someone I could be if I grow in the right direction.

But there are also other women I admire who are closer to home. My mother, grandmother, my boss, and a local shaman — all women who shine with positivity and who have inspired me even at my lowest. I find qualities and traits within them that I also wish to develop and grow within myself.

When you reinvent yourself for the real world, and when I do so alongside you this May, we should think of the things we love, the people we love, and the places we love. We should envision these things and the ways in which they relate, overlap. We should invest time and energy in developing ourselves around these commonalities. For me, this may mean traveling to California, finding a job as a designer or filmmaker for an animal activist group, and trying to fill the world around me with more peace and light. For you, it may be returning to your hometown and opening a bakery or growing your own business with a childhood friend. Wherever you turn, wherever you decide to grow, make sure it is surrounded by and filled with love. Because even as we struggle to find our way in the dark, if we have love and light in our hearts, we will continue to grow and reach our wildest dreams.