LIFE! (elle oh elle) Life right now is a total frenzy! A good frenzy, though. As I approach my college graduation there is so much going on. Four years of obtaining an undergraduate degree is coming to an end and I am ready to pop all the bottles (confetti bottles (; ) on May 11th! To be able to hold this degree that I have seen in my sight every day for eight semesters, 40 classes, countless assignments and countless plus some emotions, is unreal!! It’s so weird because I can remember when I first began college, walking across the stage was so far away that you just learned to take one day at a time and now that it is finally here, the focus must shift from one day at a time to ummm NEOW! I’m still adjusting. In this season, I find it very hard to embrace the moment of graduation because as soon as someone finds out you are graduating, the next question is “What are you doing after graduation”. For a while, I must admit every time someone asked that my whole body wanted to scream!! I’m sure a blank stare, that blinking gif of that man, is the face many people had to see. What do you mean what is next? I did all of this for years and we want to know what’s next when I’ve only prepared to get through this. Nothing prepared me for next. What do you mean? Next is so scary. For years, I’ve built a routine, I’ve become comfortable where I am. I did what I sat out to do, isn’t that enough? Why is next even a thing? After many months of wandering aimlessly, I finally found myself with a graduate school acceptance and a nice income to get me through. This living situation is still up in the air. (WHEW, Chillaaayyy!) Hopefully it will come down soon. It’s crazy around graduation time. It’s like everyone is celebrating but me because Next is sitting in my face. I mean everyone! My graduation pictures have the most interactions (likes, comments, reposts) on all social media platforms than I have ever received in my life. And yet here I am, having the hardest time celebrating myself because the realities of Next have me so afraid. I’ve never lived alone, never paid bills either, and now the clock is ticking. I understand that worry and fear aren’t characteristics that we should possess, I’m working on it.
One of the main struggles with this entire process is that when you’ve grown up with such high expectations things that other consider luxuries are merely things on a checklist to you. You just do it and check it off. The day I was accepted into my graduate program I didn’t know how to feel. Yes, only 15% of Americans hold a degree beyond undergrad. Even in my household, I would be the first. I didn’t see it that way. I threw the announcement in at the bottom of a Facebook status as an afterthought...you know “P.S.”. The other part of celebrating this accomplishment is that it came with a huge reality check. It was only when received applause from everyone but the one person I was looking for it from did it hit me. It was the first time in my life that I accomplished something and heard back nothing from those that I lived my life to please. As children, our lives are pretty much mapped out for us. From what we eat to what we wear. There aren’t many individual decisions to be made. It’s just the way life works. With this way of life, your pleasure of excelling comes from the applause of the crowd. The fulfillment isn’t in making the shot, the fulfillment is in the uproar of the audience, it’s in the affirmations and the pats on the back. So imagine a moment so grand that you find yourself scoring the winning shot an applause so big but it can’t be heard because it’s like one of those moments in the movies when the whole crowd disappears and the camera focuses in and puts a spotlight on one person and that one person stands there, no applause. Nothing else matters, the rest has faded and that is all that is left.
One of the things anyone who truly knows me knows that I am a person of routine. Once something is established or liked by me I am bonded to it. Every restaurant I have my favorite dishes that I don’t detour from. My Starbucks order in four years has not changed. The way I do my hair, makeup, dress…bonded. All bonded. So to go through 21 years of life bonded to affirmations can turn your world upside down the day they stop coming. I must find my confidence and assurance of who I am not by the applause but by what God says about me.
I’ve learned two things from this entire period of my life. The title “Clap For Yourself” comes from two different angles.
1. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is clapping for you if you aren’t enjoying the moment. These are YOUR moments and in the end, it is YOUR life to live! So yes, sis! Clap for yourself!! You deserve it! Embrace the moment.
2. Even if you don’t receive the affirmations that you feel you deserve, don’t let it take the moment from you. That moment and with the help of some wisdom from others, I learned to live for myself. I began to do what made me happy. I couldn’t let one missing clap take the whole moment. In this moment, I AM CLAPPING and I am living for me…unapologetically.
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