Today marks a very important day, it has been exactly one year since I graduated from Bucknell University. I remember graduation as if it were yesterday. No truly, I feel like I was just a Bucknell student. Most days I feel like my life today is a little hiatus or spring break, and it is only a matter of time before I will return to my dorm room and my favorite classes. Many of my friends returned to Lewisburg, PA this weekend to watch our friends graduate. I, however, chose to stay in New York City for the weekend. I thought long and hard about returning to Bucknell for graduation and I decided that for me, it would be too difficult. I knew that it would be strange and emotional to return. Even though I went back for Homecoming in October, I knew that graduation would encompass so many different emotions and I don’t think I could handle it. I love Bucknell and I always look back on my time there with fond memories.
It is interesting to reflect on how I felt that final weekend as a college student. I have said many times before that I was ready to graduate from college. Although I loved Bucknell I was ready for a new adventure. Nothing about Bucknell scared me anymore, and I knew that I needed a new challenge that would excite and terrify me. I was very calm leading up to graduation and I was excited to see my friends who graduated in December and came back to walk with me in May. It felt like a mini reunion and the perfect way to head into our final days at Bucknell, with my closest friends by my side.
Walking across the stage was incredible. There is nothing that compares to that moment when I looked out onto the crowd encompassing the entire academic quad, the place that had been the center of my home for four years. It happened so fast, suddenly I was on stage, shaking the President’s hand and descending back into my seat. I am pretty sure I held my breath the entire time, not wanting to miss a thing and too afraid to let go.
Following the ceremony I loved taking pictures with my family and friends, but that happened in like 5 minutes and suddenly it was time to pack everything up. I let a few tears slip out throughout the day, but nothing major, somehow I still managed to keep it together. After I walked across that stage and was headed home my entire focus was on my interview first thing the next day, Monday morning at 9am.
I adventured into New York City for the big interview. It lasted several hours, as I was meeting with multiple members of a team. I thought it went well and I somehow managed to keep my energy going even though I was completely exhausted from the events of the weekend. To say that coffee was a necessity is a HUGE understatement. Finally after a long morning of being asked the same questions asked over and over again, I hopped on the train back home to NJ and my mom picked me up at the train station. The second I got into the car I burst into tears. I sobbed all the way home.
I don’t think that I had allowed myself to truly think about graduation until after the interview. I knew that I would fall apart and I could not allow myself to do that before such an important event. Once I was in the car I could finally released all the emotions I had about leaving the place that had been my home for so many years. It hit me that I would no longer be living near my closest friends, the people who know me inside and out and still somehow love me. I knew that I would no longer be in the safety of the Bucknell bubble and that there were no hard and fast rules for my future. I could do whatever and be whoever, and that immediately overwhelmed me. I didn’t know where I was headed and all I wanted was to run down the hall to my friends rooms and just hug them, but I was now hundreds of miles away.
It had finally hit me.
I went to college.
I am an alumnae.
That moment of release allowed me to finally let out everything I was trying to “keep together.” Even though I love the Dr. Seuss quote “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened” in that moment I needed to cry for all the things I would miss and those moments that I knew I would never get back.
Since that afternoon so much has changed. Sometimes I feel like I am an entirely different person. This past year has been trying in so many different ways, ones that I never would have expected. I have lost friends, friends I didn’t think I would ever lose. I have felt incredibly alone and isolated commuting back and forth from the city. I have seen my friends start their own journeys while I was still living at home without answers to questions I was constantly asked. Last summer was filled with job applications, interviews, and constantly questioning where I want to go and who I want to be. Those moments of losing faith and the unknown were frustrating and overwhelming, but they also forced me forward.
I have reached a few of my lowest moments over the past year, but also some of my highest. The phone call that I got the job at Estée Lauder is an afternoon I wouldn’t give back for anything. In that moment, I knew that I was truly starting my next chapter. I was on my way, where I was headed I was not entirely sure, all I knew was that it felt right. I took a deep breath and reminded myself to believe that I can accomplish whatever I go after, especially whatever was up ahead on this new path.
Now as I sit in my favorite cafe (a Sunday routine that I have pretty much down pat) I cannot believe where I am. I am living in the most amazing city in the world and working at a company that I could truly see myself at for the long haul. Last summer, I never would have dreamed that I would be where I am today. Every day I encounter “real world” or “adult” problems that I am constantly trying to figure out, but these moments are just signs of this next phase in my life. I certainly do not have all the answers or anything figured out, but I do know that the Allison at the Bucknell University 2014 Commencement Ceremony would be incredibly proud of where I am today. No doubt about it.