My friend and I were sitting at the park by my house, swaying gently on the swings as the sun went down. We talked and talked about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go after we had grown up a little bit more. We must have been freshmen in high school at that point, but we always liked to day dream about tomorrows that were a long way away.
I cried a lot in those days, wanting a way out of the life I was in and not knowing how I was ever going to make it through the next day, let alone the rest of my life. She was always good at looking me in the eye and telling me the truth in a stern voice with all the love in the world. Back then, she was one of the first people to make it stick in my head that I needed to do something about what life had handed me. I needed to be stronger. She said to me, time and time again, that my best shot at getting out was to go to college, and she was right. She was always right.
High school came and went, sucking out my soul in the process and all the impossible things in my life happened to make it possible for me to go to college. I don't know if you believe in God, but I do. After all the miracles that have happened in my life, I don't think I could ever give up on Him. I was out. I was going to college thanks to the love and support of the people who knew my hopes and dreams and who did everything to get me to achieve them. I was finally getting out.
College was everything I hoped for and so much more. I learned things I always wanted to learn and some things that I didn't (I'm looking at you math). I found my passions and the greatest loves of my life who taught me how to love and be loved in ways that I never thought possible. College fixed me from a hopeless cynic to just a regular cynic with a bigger heart for everyone around her. Throughout the four and a half years of this place, I went through with my head down, barreling towards the finish line because I was scared to take this all for granted. What if it evaporated from my grasp or what if I woke up from this dream? Soon enough, the end came and I started crying again.
I cried from disbelief that my childhood dream of going to college came true. I cried because I realized that, even as a kid, I don't think I ever pictured graduating as part of the dream. Going to college was enough, but I had surpassed that and it was so wonderfully overwhelming.
I cried because the God I believe in had shown me love and compassion through the people who put up with me through the bad times and stuck around for the monumentally amazing, good times. I cried because I graduated from a school that I never should have been able to afford and I cried because I never had to worry about paying for it. I cried for the good because it was too much. How did I ever get to deserve this?
I also cried for the not so good. I cried for my people, the ones who never got the chance to stand where I stood. I cried for the situations that had to happen in my childhood that led me to this. I cried because it felt terrible that I wouldn't change a thing about it. I cried because it was ending. I cried because I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with an art degree. But most of all, I cried because the dream is over. I have to wake up.
By now, I've run out of tears. I'm stuck in a state of gratitude that I never want to get out of. What the hell am I going to do? I'm going to enjoy this feeling for a while. I'm going to the thank the good Lord that this all happened. I'm going to remember how hard it was to get here. Most of all, I have a few people who are getting ready to venture on the same journey and I'm going to make sure they don't have to figure it out on their own. Dreams come true. Miracles happen. Love conquers all.