Graduating from university is a significant occasion, a time of celebration with family and friends. However, the thought of graduating filled me with dread, mostly because of the unknown. How will the ceremony work? How long will I be on stage for? But then also, what do I do with my life now? The closing of this chapter, hit me hard, it was the first time I truly felt like I was an adult with many responsibilities.
On the day of graduation, I spoke to many friends about my nerves for the ceremony, which I knew were natural, I have never enjoyed being in the public eye, and the thought of walking up to shake the Vice Chancellors hand did terrify me. However, I knew that if I didn’t manage these nerves, they would take over me and I would be shivering, shaking, sweating and feeling nauseous during the ceremony. With the ceremony taking place at 11:30, there was a lot of waiting around, in many ways I just wanted it over and done with. I couldn’t eat before the ceremony and knew that I needed to be chewing gum as over the years I have found that chewing gum distracts me from feeling nauseous.
One major worry for me, regarding the ceremony was not being able to sit at the end of the aisle. One management technique I had discovered whilst at university was that if I sat at the end of the aisle, I felt I had more control. I could leave a lecture with ease if it got too much, all the while without disturbing the lecture. Another big thing with sitting on the end of the aisle is that I didn’t feel trapped. I knew at graduation the likelihood was that I would be sat in the middle of the row, therefore I spent the days leading up to the ceremony mentally preparing myself for graduation and watching the live feed so I understood the layout and knew the nearest exits.
On the day I was sat in the middle of the aisle but I found that because I had watched the live feed and knew ways to exit, I wasn’t worried about not being able to ‘escape’ and instead my worries were mostly focused on tripping whilst my name was called and being centre of attention, which it turned out was only for about 5 seconds. In fact, after the ceremony I had to confirm with my parents my name was even said, as I was using it as a cue to walk to the Chancellor and it was over so quickly I couldn’t remember!
Following on from the ceremony, I had a great day celebrating with family and friends, however it wasn’t long before my thoughts turned to everything I felt went wrong with the day or panicking over the little things that I know didn’t happen but I have to reassure myself a thousands times before I really believe they didn’t happen. For example I worried over my gown not being worn correctly, the tassel on my hat being on the wrong side (apparently it can only be worn on the left) and did my dress blow up throughout the day. All of these things I know didn’t happen but I couldn’t help but panic that they might have happened.
Even to this day I will sometimes question myself as to whether these little things happened, as well as various other embarrassing moments. When these memories occur, I always make sure I take the time to address the memory and the feelings associated with it. I remind myself that the day has passed and even if these things did happen it’s fine and forgotten about, and as they didn’t happen there is no need to worry. It can sometimes feel like you are constantly thinking of bad memories and the feelings associated with them, however you have to remind yourself that you often have flashbacks to positive memories. However, we can often dismiss these positive memories without appreciating them as they don’t make us feel agitated. Therefore I have learnt that it is important to cherish the times you look back on a positive memory.
Looking back now the reason I was so nervous about graduation was because I didn’t know how the ceremony would take place. However I believe most of the worry was because it was the end of a chapter and I had no idea what I would be doing in six months time. The unknown can be very stressful, but looking back now I truly do wish I enjoyed the day more and stressed less about the direction my life was going in, as that can be easily shaped. I learnt that although I often tell myself the negatives of various situations, I have to start looking for the positives and enjoy moments of celebrations, like graduation rather than stress about the unknown.
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