My university graduation was this time last year. It should have taken me six semesters to finish my course, but I ended up needing ten. They were the toughest and most rewarding five years of my life and that’s probably why graduation day meant so much to me. I’ve wanted to write about it ever since it happened, because the feelings I experienced that day were unlike anything I’ve ever felt, but I just haven’t found a way to do them justice. I still don’t think I can, at least not in the manner they deserve, but in honour of my graduation anniversary in two days, I figured I should try to put at least some of those feelings into words.
For you to truly understand why that day was so emotional I would have to write an in-depth account of all the times I felt like a failure, wanted to quit, couldn’t bring myself to complete an assignment, second-guessed the direction I was taking my life in, struggled with crippling anxiety and so on… But it would turn into a very long (and boring) whinge fest. Suffice it to say, for four of those five years I didn’t really believe I’d graduate – at least not from The University of Melbourne or that same course (or in this decade, if I’m being completely honest).
To realise that I had taken those long semesters of adversity and turned them into a much more successful final year after working very hard on my inner-self ended up being very overwhelming. It felt like the final scene of a movie, the triumphant culmination of a perfectly set-up story arch. Some of my family from Brazil got to be there to witness what I’d become during those seven years apart. Mum and dad got to see the pay off from the sacrifice they made leaving their whole lives behind just to give me and my brother something better than they had. I got to show my own self what I can do when I allow myself to find the strength needed to get through life’s challenges at my own pace. And I never felt prouder.