Graduation followed a week after ‘Practicum’ in the desert. It was a proud moment to walk down the aisle of Royce Hall on the stunning campus of UCLA. I felt like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde!
My sister Lisa flew over from England to watch me graduate, my cousins Alex and Stephen came from Laguna Beach and my favourite G&T buddy came to cheer me on which I was very grateful for especially as it turned out to be a long and drawn out occasion! I helped keep their spirits up with snap chats throughout.
I’m not sure graduation ceremonies are particularly enthralling for anyone as it is a lot of pomp and ceremony. It feels somewhat antiquated being dressed up in gowns and hats like characters from Hogwarts, but I do appreciate that rituals and memories are such important parts of life.
When I graduated with my degree in Sociology from the University of Exeter in 2003 it was one of the proudest and happiest days of my life, peppered with moments of sadness because my Mother had died the year before and was not there with me to share this special occasion. It is events such as this that can trigger my grief, but at the same time, my Mother’s death motivated me to work hard and achieve. Even though she is no longer with me in physical form, I still want to make her proud and her influence and example taught me that hard work and dedication always pays off.
So often the completion of something that I have worked hard for feels like an anti-climax. All those moments where I was so desperate to get the work behind me and cross the finish line are forgotten. Gone is the agony of procrastination and self-flagellation for not trying harder. Suddenly I am where I want to be and the feeling of relief is so momentary that it is then forgotten and I am left with the thought, what now? It is a skill for me to hone to remain in the present moment for as long as possible instead of future trip into the next phase of my life.
The invited speaker at the graduation ceremony was fellow Brit, Robert Holden and his take away advice, was ‘stop making plans, receive the plan’ which is hard for me to do…
Since receiving confirmation that I was no longer eligible for the OPT visa, I had put the ball in motion to apply for an entrepreneur visa despite good advice from a friend who said that this was an opportunity to do nothing and surrender. I thought, mmm, I don’t really agree with that, I want to stay in the US and I will make it happen!!
But the culmination of the course and the graduation threw me and suddenly I was feeling very unsure about my plan about launching a business as a Life Coach and investing in a visa to stay in the US…