Graduation.

The word ‘Graduation’ has different meanings for many people. As a teen, the word would conjure up images of the typical American high school movie where the girl-next-door gets into her dream college and her parents present her with a car to celebrate the end of her high school experience. Movies such as A Cinderella Story and her obsession with getting into Princeton or even Legally Blonde made up a lot of my expectations as to what going to University and my graduation would be like.

hsm31High School Musical 3 anyone?

Later on as I started University, graduation seemed a long way off but remained the ultimate goal for me as I went through three years of study. During the summer holiday between my first and second year at University I even worked at graduation as an events runner so had a really good idea of what my own graduation would entail. I pictured wearing the gap and gown, posing with a scroll wrapped with a ribbon and celebrating with many glasses of champagne with my nearest and dearest.

champagne

Little did I know that graduation would come to mean so much more to me than just celebrating the end of a long period of study. So when I did graduate, last week on the 13th July thank you very much, the day was filled with so many moments of anticipation, excitement, nerves and happiness sprinkled with just a tinge of regret and sadness.

Of course I had to get some of those typical graduation shots with my main university gang –

20024225_10214342935313889_8900132954284889663_o19983979_10214342909873253_4020441162752653043_oDSCN1816 (2)As you can see in most of these photos that flipping sash really didn’t want to stay on my shoulder.

But for me, not only was the scroll I held in my photo a piece of plastic piping wrapped with a ribbon and the champagne something fizzy because no student can afford champagne but it felt nothing like what I had expected it to. Little old 16 y/o me thought that this moment was all that I was working up to but coming out on the other side, that certificate represents being able to overcome the most difficult period of my life to this point.

The past five years of taking my A-Levels, getting into University and then graduating from Brunel with a 2:1 in English Literature have been incredible. It is easy to list off these achievements as though getting through these experiences were a piece of cake but it is the past five years of mental health problems, heartbreak, grief and recovery which mean that my graduation felt like the biggest triumph as a huge fuck you to the problems I have struggled with.

DSCN1799This family is my everything.

The personal problems I faced during this time which meant retaking coursework, handing in essays late, failing modules for attendance all while struggling to find the will to live mean that coming away from this degree with that certificate in my hand means I managed to win a battle with my mind that at times, I really didn’t think I would win.

So when it came to my actual graduation day, I was happy and relieved to finally have completed my degree but I felt sad knowing what a difficult journey I had faced in losing family members, friends and a part of myself along the way. It might not be the 1st Class Honours that 16 y/o me wanted, but I fought damn hard for this degree and put my life and soul into getting that bit of paper. Putting that sadness and regret to one side… I fucking did it!

DSCN1843

Lets see what life throws at me next! – Stephanie.

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