I have prolonged completing this post because I wasn’t sure how to even begin…. it didn’t quite felt real yet. In May, I graduated from Texas A&M University, traveled around Europe for a month, and returned to College Station one last time to move back home with my wonderful family. I kept thinking that eventually a switch would flip, and I’d know that I am really finished with the portion of my my life as a student. Now, sitting in my childhood bedroom overflowing with boxes from College Station, I think that I am finally ready to write about change, acceptance, and moving on.
As my best friend Julie so eloquently puts it, I do not do well with endings. Graduation was the celebratory ceremonial ending to my formal education, but the time leading up to this moment was mainly categorized with fear and denial: I was mourning for the loss of my identification as a college student. This included uncontrollably crying in the most unconventional of places (usually at a restaurant where other guests stare), sappy soliloquies detailing how much I’m going to miss everyone (these are affectionally called “Rachel Speeches” by my good friends), and a downright dark cloud internally cast over lighthearted activities simply because I could not shake the feeling of imminent doom. Bummer, I know.
It wasn’t so much my fear or my stubbornness or even my insecurity that emoted this overwhelming sadness. Rather, it was the realization that the life I have cherished so much these past four years is ending. Though this “Johnny Raincloud” routine may seem very out of character for someone who has been called “relentlessly positive” (another bestie quip), it stems from the fact that I have found so much happiness during my time in college.
Coming to Texas A&M, I had a very clear idea of what the next four years were going to look like. Sure, I attended every football game and participated in all the Aggie traditions I could…..but nothing else really aligned with where I saw myself as an incoming freshman. And I could not be more grateful for that. The hypothetical-college-Rachel had fun, but the real-life-college-Rachel was the most joyous, fulfilled person I never could have imagined on my own. I was blessed with the most incredible, fantastic, beautiful, mind-boggling friends that challenged me and loved me unconditionally. My organizations, specifically MSC OPAS, shaped me into the passionate, confident person that I am today. The teachings from professors and mentors will remain with me always, both professionally and personally. So you can understand why I have had a difficult time letting go.
In a post written about a year ago, I describe my anticipation of graduating:
“I’ve never been one to love change, but I do see its worth. Without change, we would never value the things we leave behind. Moving on is painful and difficult, but it is during these seasons that we develop and grow, learning about ourselves and how our journeys have shaped us.”
Now that I am on the other side of this change, I have come to see that it all boils down to faith. Faith in God, faith in the future, faith in myself. In my wildest dreams, I could not conceive a more perfect Aggie experience, so why won’t this next phase of life have the same result? God knocked it out of the park during college, so why wouldn’t He keep surprising me for the better? My Father has proven countless times just how incredible His plans are for me, even when I think differently.
Despite the initial grief and doubt, I have started come to terms with the truth that I am now ready to collect my memories and move on. And I know it’s time. The bits and pieces of my heart that I am leaving behind stand up so small against the amount of joy, love, and triumph I am taking with me on this new, unforeseen path. My journey has only just begun, and it is because of all the happiness, hard work, and humor of the past four years that I am ready to climb new mountains and conquer new giants. I don’t know how this next chapter will unfold, and that absolutely terrifies me. But I realize that I am no longer in the end of something, but rather the beginning. The future is a mystery, which means it’s going to be one exciting adventure. All I can say is, I hope I make it a good story to tell.