The past few days have been filled with change and upheaval for me and my family. In two days’ time, my husband and I drove 1600 miles in order to clean out our son’s dorm room prior to his campus shutting down.
I remember when I first drove to campus to drop him off for orientation. It was so exciting and I was greeted with a beautiful banner that said, “Welcome to Columbia.” But as we drove up Amsterdam Avenue for what may be the last time, I was hit with a stark contrast- no smiling people saying, “So glad to see you, Can we help get your things out of the car?”
Instead, it was dark, isolated, and almost midnight, similar to how I was feeling on the inside. If I was honest, that was not how I imagined my final visit to Columbia would go. In my mind, our whole family would have traveled together to watch while my son’s name was called as he crossed the stage to receive his degree and a handshake from the dean of his college.
I realize I am not alone in feeling this way. Many other graduates from all levels have had their graduation/commencement ceremonies postponed or even canceled. As family members who have supported them through the past 4 years, you, too, may be hoping for another outcome.
The question for us now is, “How do we deal with the disappointment that we feel while also celebrating the accomplishments they have achieved?”
Acknowledge your feelings.
You may be angry, but if you look deeper what you may really be experiencing is disappointment, sadness, or grieving the loss of a dream. Whatever you are feeling, let it come. Bottling it up and/or acting like everything is normal (which it obviously isn’t) may only make things worse. It’s ok to talk about how you feel. Make sure to listen to how other family members and friends are feeling, too.
Because in today’s society, we have so few ceremonies that mark life’s transitions, find a way to commemorate the accomplishment – both now and later. If the school is providing some type of ceremony, think about participating even if it’s online. We are living in a different time now, so we have to be willing to change and adapt accordingly. But by all means, CELEBRATE!
Embrace the journey of the past and look forward to the future.
Whether you are graduating from high school, college, graduate school or technical school, you worked hard by studying. You made sacrifices of your time to be a successful student. Whether you are the parent, guardian, friend or family member of a graduating student, you also sacrificed money and time to support them. No matter how exciting the graduations, formals, and other senior celebrations are, I am reminded that they mark the end of one phase of life while simultaneously signaling the beginning of another. It’s important to look back, learn from the past, and move toward the future, knowing that everything has led you to this point in your life.
I’m still hopeful that my son’s university will hold commencement exercises, and if they do, you can bet I will be there. (I mean, we earned it, you know!) In all seriousness, I’ve been in my feelings since I found out that what I expected to happen was not going to happen the way I thought it would happen. Some things are out of my control, but I’m trying to accept the things I can’t control, have the courage to change the things that I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. I’m hopeful we can all find ways to make the most of a situation we never dreamed we would face.