By Emily Soccorsy
We have too few rights of passage in our society.
Too few rituals marking significant moments of change and growth; scarce opportunities to slow down, gather and recognize a fellow human being’s journey through life.
One of the few we do have is graduation. Whether graduating from high school, college or a training program, graduation is a commonly accepted moment for pausing, honoring and congratulating.
When my daughter graduated from high school two years ago, we hosted a backyard gathering to mark the occasion.
I remember feeling fully grounded and also elated watching the people who had supported, loved and encouraged her on her journey. Under the giant elm shading our back patio that my husband planted when she was in third grade, I stood back and admired with deep gratitude the beautiful village surrounding her, buoying her, believing in her. Her grade school reading tutor, her uncle who flew in to surprise her, her godparents, her grade school friends who remained close through high school.
I also felt highly aware and humbled by the emergence of her self and the marking of her unique character at this moment in time. I reveled in how she had navigated the many challenges of her primary and secondary education and emerged more of who she was.
My girl had been tested by fire – and a global pandemic – and she was ready to move on. This moment was a bookmark, a snapshot of an unrepeatable time of growth and transition, and a hope filled harbinger of what was to come.
A crossroads for her, and for my husband and I, to look back in one direction and forward in another.
Do we stop graduating? Do we stop having crossroads in life?
Of course we don’t. We just surrender the significance of our moments of transition by robbing ourselves of the rituals around them.
This habit of un-recognition steals our self-awareness.
It erodes our ability to mark our growth.
It destroys our capacity to recognize the distances we have traveled, the inner and outer wisdom we have gained.
It hampers our ability to dream or plan or envision what lies ahead.
One of my favorite sayings is: You can have a fresh start at any moment you choose. I recite it to myself regularly.
I also think you can have a personal graduation in any moment you choose.
To invoke graduation is to hit pause to consider your path, the distance you have traveled, what you have learned, who was there with you on that part of the path and, finally, to look out ahead to see or dream what is next.
So, what are you graduating from in this season?
As traditional graduations begin occurring this month, I invite you to consider the road behind you and the path ahead.
What are you still in pursuit of?
What feels like it has come to a close?
What will your graduation certificate say?
What will it recognize?
How have you grown in the interim?
What are you preparing yourself for mentally, spiritually, emotionally?
What are you celebrating? When you toss your cap in the air, what is it you are letting go of?
What will you pursue next?
Give yourself a graduation moment. Buy yourself a cake. Make yourself a diploma.
Mark this moment of achievement and transformation.
For me, this season marks the end of major transitions in my life. I feel I have completed my first child send-off. (Yes, it took me two years to adjust and process.) I navigated a major business transition. I am graduating from one era of collaboration into another.
I continue to pursue my education in life and love and relationships and I look forward to my entry into the post-post-graduate program!
I see a future of collaboration, connection, travel and service.
I celebrate it all.