This Is Where It All Begins

“Now at last, they were beginning chapter one of the great story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever – in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

~C.S. Lewis~ 

I can now officially say that I am a college graduate. That is so weird, and I can’t say that it has fully sunk in yet. After waking up at 4:15 on Saturday morning, my mom did my hair and makeup, I ate a donut and 11009912_10206317369560440_5707780426881337543_ngot dressed for the big event. I made it to school around 5:45, meeting at The Runner office with the rest of my friends just like we had many times before. Only this would be the last time. As soon as everyone was there, we walked to the Red Brick Road, which is where all the graduates were to meet. We filled out the cards with our names, which is what they would read as we walked across the stage during the ceremony.

We walked to our spot behind the communications sign and waited for them to give us the okay to talk. It was all very rushed and hectic, then my mom came to get my belongings and I ran into a couple people I went to high school with. Crazy! Then, it was time to walk. We made our way down the street and into the amphitheatre area. It was getting real. Our group made it in the front row, which was really exciting, except for the fact that the sun was beating right down on us and was shining straight into our eyes. It was unbelievably hot and sticky, and it hadn’t even started yet. They didn’t waste time starting the ceremony, but just jumped right in. Our commencement speaker, Dr. Freeman, was incredible. He made so many good points, but the thing that stood out most to me was, “don’t become so big that you forget about people.” He was all about humble beginnings and taking care of those close relationships, and as I move away from this town and everything that made me (eventually), I want to hold onto those ideas. I hope someone got his speech on tape, because I felt inspired for the future as he spoke. Not long after, we lined up and took to the stage. It was time to graduate!!!! We hadn’t run through the process of anything, so I was starting to freak out. Where were we supposed to stand? Where do we walk after we get our diplomas? Do we shake hands first or grab the rolled up piece of paper? So many questions. One by one, people started walking across the stage and soon, it was my turn. I handed the paper to one of the announcers and started walking to accept my rolled up piece of paper, as he called my name. In a split second, my moment of glory was 11377184_10206729428572532_7818172543724005446_nover. It was all a blur. We’d all been waiting forever for it, and just like that, it was gone. I cheered for my friends that walked after me and felt myself tearing up a little as I thought about all we’d overcome and made it through together. The rest of the time, we sat there watching all of the other departments graduate, while baking in the sun. However, for having a TON of graduates, we made it through in just about two hours. There were four different lines, so there was a constant flow of people moving. We moved our tassels, and suddenly we had officially graduated. That was it! We all cheered and freaked out with one another, then waited for further instruction on what to do next. After we made our way out into the grassy pastures, we were able to meet up with our families and friends to mingle and celebrate the fact that WE DID IT!!!!!

I took pictures with my friend Viviyan, my parents and my aunt and visited with them for a little while, before joining The Runner staff for pictures. I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am to be supported by my family and friends. I felt so loved and encouraged by them being there to celebrate my accomplishment.

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My parents haven’t been able to meet the staff, so I was really excited for them to get to be part of the group for a bit. We all laughed and joked for a bit, like it was any other day. As everyone joined, we took our group pictures and even managed to get one with the commencement speaker, Dr. Freeman and our very own President Mitchell. Exciting stuff, for sure! It was one of those moments for the books.

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I don’t feel like there was ever really a point where I had time to get sentimental. All week, I had been rushing to finish projects or study for exams, and then suddenly, I’m sitting in the front row of graduation and that’s it. And maybe it’s because I know this isn’t the end for all of us. Things are going to be different, of course, but we’re still going to see each other and there’s always Facebook and our group chat to keep in touch. We really aren’t saying goodbye at all. Or maybe it all just happened so fast that I didn’t have time or I didn’t allow myself the time to get emotional about it, because I just didn’t want to go there. I’m not sure. But, in the blink of an eye, the past two years were gone and I was looking ahead to my future. Well, actually, I was just looking forward to lunch at that point. We took a few more pictures, then headed home to change into comfier clothes.

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We had lunch with my aunt, I opened presents and the rest of the afternoon, I helped my mom clean the house and get things straightened up for guests the next day. I was also wiped out and took a nap, then cleaned my room. That night, I went out for dinner with my parents, and we drove around to all of my old schools. My dad’s kind of sentimental that way too. It was fun to take a walk down memory lane from my elementary school and jr. hi to high school and the college years. In each phase, I could see how much I grew and challenged myself. Each tear that fell and obstacle that I faced made me into who I am today, and I know that God has had His hand on me through it all.

As we left my latest school home, I decided to play “This Time” by Lea Michele, which was in the last episode of “Glee.” I couldn’t help but tear up at the words, as my own mini montage of memories played through my mind, and has the past couple of weeks as I’d walk around campus in my last moments of this class or hanging out with a certain group of people. What a special day and evening it was as I looked back, but started looking forward.

This time no one’s gonna say goodbye  I’ll keep you in this heart of mine  This time I know it’s never over 

No matter who or what I am  I’ll carry where we all began  This time that we had, I will hold forever

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling horrible. Then, my dog wanted outside and was acting crazy, so I was trying to keep her tamed. My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to do anything we had planned for Sunday, but like most times when I get sick, it passed in a matter of hours. It was quite an evening…or morning, depending on how you looked at it. I was up for awhile, but finally fell asleep as the sun was starting to come up. I woke up around 8:30 or so.

The festivities continued yesterday with church (one of our pastors gave me a shout out and mentioned that I had graduated, which was awesome and totally unexpected) and a sermon about trusting God. It really hit home as I start making all of these lists and plans about decisions I have to make about the future. After church, we had brunch at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace with all of our family and friends. I invited two of my closest girlfriends, Marissa and Viviyan, who have really been with me every step of the way and words cannot express how much I love them or how deep our bond goes.

We ate a ton, we caught up and it just felt good to be in a place that means so much to me (and is the closest thing to being in Nashville). I got to wear my new dress and my trusty old cowboy boots, so I felt great! I was with people I loved…What could be better?

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I tried taking a nap when I got home, because I was wiped out, but there was too much commotion going on. So, I helped with cleaning the house and setting up before company came over. Marissa was first to arrive, so we chatted more (best friends can never talk too much) and we waited for everyone else to come. Pretty soon, our house was filled with laughter, talking and lots of munching on chips. It was the same group as earlier (long story as to how it worked out that way), but now I’m so glad that it was. It’s the first time that I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I could actually enjoy myself. It was great getting to see so many of my favorite people interacting with one another! Marissa, Viviyan and I were also talking plans for the rest of the summer, like a trip to the beach and a Dodger game. This is going to be a great summer.

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By the end of the evening, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Everyone kept asking about what’s next, and the truth is that I honestly don’t know. I have ideas, but there are also a million things out there that I could try and I’m not sure which direction is for me right now. This weekend has been a whirlwind and just continues to keep blowing me away for many reasons. As for the job thing, well, let’s just say that things are looking up in that department…But, I’m waiting to see what it all means.

That’s all for now,

Shelby

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