Bedazzled cap on hand, in unison with the roaring crowd and bottomless tears of both teachers and students alike, the flicker of the camera captures it all---as a permanent testimony of what once was.

Caps off, it's that time of year again.

Is it really the end?

--

We are now propelled to transfer our knowledge--not only from textbooks, but from our accumulated experiences--onto a completely different platform. We are now given the choice. To start anew, or simply continue something promising we have already started.

As we toss our caps in the midst of our fast-paced life, we somehow slow down the process. We release our hats to accept the uncertainty of it all--whatever that all may be. The comforting structure of academia no longer exists. As we bid farewell to familiar grounds, routine bells, and childhood comrades, we somehow also depart from a significant part of ourselves.

My cap, however, will not be a symbol of an end, but an expansion of an era. A more personally-driven, decisive, and free-spirited version of my now dreamer self lives within that white graduation gown. Those dreaded school bus rides will soon transform into subway trips around the sleepless jungle of New York streets. While in Florence, lunch time will no longer consist of school french fries or Panera Bread runs, but as a sacred experience for my taste buds (hello endless carbohydrates and gelato). Academic curiosity, given by the foretaste of Advanced Placement courses in high school, is further excited by higher education---indulging myself in Socrates or even reintroducing myself to Machiavelli.

I will become of someone else entirely, but I will always carry along my childish spirit. High school Margaret perpetuates, influencing my every latter decision. She will remain adventure-seeking, open, and limitless. She will always dare. She will hopefully be unapologetically bold.

I will let go to hold on to my naivety, to make her somewhat proud.

Whether you choose a path towards a higher education or not, a music career or a completely unclear concentration, or even deciding to live in a wholly distant part of the world, the conclusion of such a chapter inevitably separates us, yet simultaneously connects us as well. We bond over this similar dent we have created in our lives. Today and together, we laugh at our experienced relationship problems, social anxieties, and popularity contests, as we endeavor on our own self-fulfilling journey.

This is not the most awaited light at the end of some tunnel, but as a beginning to let ourselves be lost and finally give time listen--to hear our inner selves screaming for our most genuine desires.

Our caps are off to explore a pavement unformed.

To my fellow graduates, the world is limitless from here. Turn your tassel left, and witness boundlessness unfold.

We deserve today.