“Today will be different. It has to be. I will smile and it will be believable. My smile will say ‘I’m fine. Thank you. Yes. Much better.’ I will no longer be the [undergrad who has lost her way]. I will start fresh. Be someone new. It’s the only way I’ll make it through.” -Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries, S1E1.
“I have faults enough,but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for.” -Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
“I was just thinking-today is the first and last day of forever. It’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around it.” -Bella Swan, Breaking Dawn
“So here’s the speech. This [college} thing is a bitch. Your world shrivels down to a dot. You know this. And all you can think about is how to get your next meal, and keeping your secret[s]. And then suddenly there’s hope again.” -Lowell Tracy, iZombie S1E5
“Sometimes the best book has the dustless jacket. And sometimes the best teacup is chipped.”-Belle, Once Upon A Time, S3E22
It has been 19 years, 8 months and 6 days since I started school. I’ve started things, ended things, lost track of things. There’ve been times when I’ve ruled the world and there’ve been times when I rued the world. I’ve been scared, alone, hurt. I’ve been elated, loved, healed. And although there will never be enough words to write about how these past two decades have molded me, I have some perspective that I want to give.
-First-it doesn’t matter what other people think. If you are unhappy-change it.
-If the thing you want more than anything makes no sense-then stop trying to logic your way to it.
-If what you’re doing does not fulfill you, and isn’t a step in the way to making you content-move on.
-At least five minutes a day should be spent telling yourself how much you mean to yourself.
-Change your mind. And change it again.
-Eat that cake. And don’t you ever feel ashamed that you like it.
-Never apologize for being yourself. Unless you’re an ass-and then start with an apology to yourself.
-Drink water-even if it tastes like rocks.
-You only get this one body. And you’ve spent your whole life growing it. Don’t you know what kind of magic that takes?
-Be polite. But don’t be a pushover.
-If you don’t want to drink or smoke or have sex-that is your right. No one who matters will force you.
-And if they do-that’s illegal.
-Learn your rights.
-Make a list. Check things off. Especially with colorful ink.
-Invest in yourself. Even when it makes no sense. Especially when it makes no sense.
-Date yourself. Treat yourself to those relaxing things that you see on Pinterest.
-Never be afraid of a bad picture. Because they’re candid memories of things you can’t get back.
-You look great. No seriously. You look exactly like you. And that’s great.
-Never be afraid to speak up. You may be the first voice, but undoubtedly you will not be the only one.
-Kindness is not a suggestion-it’s a lifestyle.
-Learn to cook foods you actually like to eat.
-Learn some hobbies. You’ll need to know how to relieve stress.
I know that this sounds like an inspirational board that lists the ways you can get through a bad day or something, but I think it’s important. We’re not told that being completely ourselves is okay, not given permission to live freely. And the world is missing out on some really great people because of it. Plus, treating yourself right is the first step in treating others right.
As I said. It’s been almost 20 years since I started formal education. And I’ve still more to go. This is the biggest life change I’ve had to date, and to say I’m not scared would be a lie. I’m spooked. But you know what? I know that I’ll manage to be okay. Courage is taking one step more than you thought you could. “Only a fool is not afraid.” -Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time.
I’m not sure I have any grand parting words. I’ve been the best version of me I can be-and I’m making changes as I see fit. I’ve had so many great times, so many growth times and it’s all been etched on my heart forever. I feel like I’ve spent so many years hating who I was and I’ve spent these last few years trying to apologize and make amends with myself. I’m not the person I will be-but I’m so much closer than before. I’ve learned how to be Michelle, a feat that I never even knew I would accomplish.
I chose to use quotes for today, not because I couldn’t think of things to say, but because they help you understand what today means to me. I have one final on Sunday (ew) and then I have officially finished my time here. It’s been a long journey, at times tiresome, but always an adventure.
“So. Here it is. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Don’t think of [this] too often. I don’t want [to be] sad. Just live well. Just live.” -Will Traynor, Me Before You.