Each day we encounter experiences that shape who we are. Whether they are for good or bad, these are lessons that ultimately lead our next decision in life. This year, my graduation day taught me one of the most valuable lessons I've learned, providing me with a forward-looking attitude as I moved through 2018 and now onto 2019.
On June 1st, 2018, I stood alongside nearly 660 of my classmates anxiously waiting to turn our tassels. With nothing else to do, I fidgeted with my gown for nearly 2 hours before finally getting the chance to walk across that stage. After my 5 seconds of fame, I returned to my seat with the same tiresome attitude.
"Can this be over already?"
I heard the crowd of parents mumble beside me. As the ceremony continued, the crowd anxiously grew louder. Students' last names from "M" onward were nearly muted out by the disturbing amount of side conversation that echoed the room. Graduation ceremonies are often deemed as unnecessarily long, but for the kid with the last name "Zimmerman", it feels even longer. Although I was sure to make the most of my walk across the stage, I failed to recognize the importance of all the other special moments that composed the ceremony.
Most parents anxiously await their child's name to be called, yet forget to give the recognition to everyone else who succeeded alongside them. The student's name who was called 3 people before your child may have been a first generation college student in their family, the 655th name to be called may have experienced a tragedy during the year, yet still excelled to receive their diploma, and the child's name who could not be heard because your side conversation, may have been going on to serve in our armed forces.
It was not until I watched the heartfelt graduation ceremony of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that I realized I had taken graduation day for granted. The parents who attended my ceremony were lucky to watch their children obtain their own diploma, the teachers who volunteered their time to organize the event were lucky to be alongside all of their colleagues, and the students who sat with empty chairs next to them were lucky that the non-attending students had the option of being there. While it is important to embrace our moment, it is just important to recognize that it is someone else's moment too. Too often we centralize significant events around ourselves, but if graduation day taught me anything, it was the importance of embracing a moment with everyone that you are sharing it with.
Rather than waiting for January 1st to loop around to start "seizing every moment", I decided to start right then and there. From that day forward, I made sure to congratulate all my friends who earned their diploma. I attended graduation parties nearly every other day for two weeks but treated each one with the same significance as my own. It shouldn't have taken me regretting my own graduation day to alter my mentality, but unfortunately, it did. The important thing is that I now recognize the importance of acknowledging others' achievements just as much as myself. While every day may not be the brightest or the most fulfilled to me, someone out there had the best day of their life, and if I was lucky enough to watch the sun rise and set, then I'd say I had a pretty darn good day as well.