Dawn of the unknown

Published 11:59 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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When I was at the beach a few weekends ago, I saw college graduates walking around in their caps and gowns, followed by a photographer to capture their happiness of finally being finished. 

In Greer, I see teens getting their cap-and-gown pictures done, and I see pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and everywhere else. 

I was walking down the street in downtown Greenville last Saturday, and I saw more graduates at Falls Park––even a little girl in a shiny pink cap and gown running around with a banner that said “Kindergarten.” 

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I looked up at my boyfriend and said, “I was so so so happy when I graduated high school and college. I felt so accomplished.”

And I reflected on that emotion. There’s no feeling like being in the twilight of a season that lasted 18 years and facing the dawn of the unknown. My high school graduation was fun and exciting, and I remember reading a lot of books the summer before I went to college (I even wrote one. It’s called “Between the Ocean and the Stars.” Find it in our local Barnes & Nobles!) 

That fall, I started college, and my life seemed to change drastically, as it does between the ages of 18 and 22. New house, new people, new dramatic events.

Four years later, I found myself driving to North Greenville University for the last time, totally nervous, a little irritable, and frankly…scared. It wasn’t like high school, when I had one last free summer and then four years of college to build the foundation of my career as a writer. 

I suddenly woke up the next day and had no job, no community of friends, and seemingly no future. I was distraught that I had let this happen, that the two jobs promised to me upon graduation fell through, and that I’d have to make my freelance job with the magazine work for now. 

I told my boyfriend last Saturday that I had felt “accomplished” when I graduated college, and to some degree (haha), I did feel that way. I had earned my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in writing, and I’d become a columnist for a little local paper that soon launched my journalism career. 

There was so much opportunity before me, and I knew that. I knew the doors would open, but the hallway was so long. It was so, so long, and I hated the wait. 

Growing pains, without a shadow of a doubt, stink. They hurt, as does anything that challenges you or pushes you or pulls you. Or makes you wait.

So I look at all these graduates strolling around, excited for the next chapter, and I lift my glass to them. Because now? Now, the growing pains really kick in.