It was the morning of graduation, and I woke up in an anxious panic mode with thoughts sprinting through my mind.
"Is my family going to get good seats?"
"What if I do not have a good hair day?"
"I hope everyone likes the restaurant I chose to go to afterwards!"
"What if my parents can't see me walk across the stage?"
"What if my outfit looks terrible? Were the purple shoes a good option?"
Being the anxious person I am, I did everything I could to set myself up for success on graduation day. My best friend ironed my gown with a straightener the night before, we did a hair test run, I had tried on my entire outfit (with and without the cap and gown) and modeled it in my apartment, and even made a handy "DO NOT FORGET THIS STUFF" list to look at before we walked out the door. I was the most prepared person to graduate that day, and I decided I really needed to calm down. After saying some positive affirmations multiple times, I relaxed and enjoyed getting ready the rest of the morning.
My best friend, boyfriend, and I jumped into the car, and I started driving to Stephenville one last time. I had so many emotions going through me, but the one I will remember the most is pure excitement. I was finally done with college. I had completed the goal I had been working towards for the past 4 1/2 years. I beamed behind the wheel as I imagined how relieving it will be to be out of college for good. However, my smile slowly faded as we approached stand-still cars that stretched for miles on the highway.
It was 10:30 a.m. when we approached the traffic at first. We were very positive at the beginning of this journey, because we had left very early and had plenty of time to get to graduation. However, the panic in my body increased each minute we sat in the car without moving. To make it more clear, here are some times to explain where the panic was coming from. Graduates had to be in the gym getting ready to line up for graduation at 12:00 p.m., and my graduation started at 1:00 p.m. We approached the traffic at 10:30 a.m., ended up getting through the traffic at 1:00 p.m., and we were still over an hour away from Stephenville. (We were late. Really late.)
It is safe to say I went through a myriad of emotions in those 2 1/2 hours. I was in denial, because I really thought at one point we would make it out on time. I was extremely frustrated, because I then realized there was a really good chance that the day I have looked forward to for years may not happen at all. However, the most prominent emotion was sadness. At one point I was hysterically bawling in the car, because all I wanted to do was walk across the stage at that point. I didn't care how I looked, I didn't care about what I was doing afterwards, I didn't care what everyone thought, I just really wanted to go across that stage and receive my diploma.
Luckily, by God's will and maybe a little bit of speeding, we arrived to Tarleton's gym at 1:40 P.M. (For a point of reference here, my fellow graduates were being called across the stage to receive their diplomas as I walked in.) Thanks to my friends, mom, and friendly Tarleton staff, I was able to sit at the very end of the line and become the last person to walk across the stage to receive my diploma for Tarleton in 2016.
The best part of this whole experience is that I didn't care. I didn't care if everyone was awkwardly staring at me when I ran into the gym, very late, trying to figure out where to go. I didn't care if my outfit or hair looked okay. I didn't care what other people thought in that moment. I really was just grateful about the fact that I was getting to walk across the stage, receive my diploma, and be proud of myself for completing this chapter in my life. For Perfectionist Taylor, it wasn't just a big deal to not be concerned about everything else, it was life changing.
So here is the last lesson that college wanted to teach me before I left: embrace the big moments in life, and not so much the details surrounding that moment. Before I left for graduation, I was so worried about everything besides just being happy to graduate that day. However, life gave me a much-needed slap in the face to remind me that I have no control over anything. No matter how much I plan and prepare, I am not the one who controls what happens at the end of the day.
If you would have asked me how my graduation day would have gone, I would have not guessed it would have been how it actually turned out. However, it was the most perfect imperfect day I could have asked for. I am grateful for a lesson that was taught on a day I will never forget, because it made me so much more grateful for the five seconds of fame I had when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma. More importantly, it was a great perspective to receive as I walked into a new phase of my life.
Friends, I really urge you to live in the moment. Embrace the big moments in life, and not so much the details surrounding that moment. I learned that focusing on the details of my graduation day took away my joy I had towards that moment, and replaced that joy with stress, anxiety, and worry. Whether you are planning a wedding, having a kid, throwing a surprise party, or anything else life is throwing at you, I urge you to not let the small details of that moment steal your joy. I urge you to allow yourself to live in the moment, and embrace it as much as you can.
Here's to a big moment in my life that turned into a big life lesson. I look forward to working on finding peace, trusting that it is better that I am not always in control, and not letting small details steal my joy in any other moments of my life. And, I pray you can find the same thing wherever you are in your life.