Graduation. The very word invokes a range of emotions. Pride. Relief. Accomplishment. Stress. Apprehension. Fear. Graduation marks the end of a arduous journey along a rigorous path. You’ve worked hard; you’ve sacrificed. You’ve reached the end of the line; you’ve achieved your goal. And now you have just one question…Is this the end?
The truth is graduation marks both an end and a beginning, the conclusion of a once in a lifetime experience and the commencement of a path still to be determined. On graduation day, nothing feels impossible. Hopes and dreams are on the brink of fruition and even if you’re feeling a little fearful, the world is less intimidating with a diploma in hand.
As we enter the season of ceremonies celebrating the accomplishments of graduates everywhere, let’s pause for a moment and reflect and celebrate the personal “graduation” moments in our lives. No, everything in life may not be perfect. We may not have succeeded at every goal we have set for ourselves and that New Year’s Resolution you were committed to may have dropped off of your radar. However, there have been challenges that you have overcome this past week, this past month, or this past year. Maybe you were able to still smile in the face of someone who hurt you. Perhaps you re-organized your budget, or let go of some household clutter. Maybe you held your tongue in a situation where you would have previously let it loose; or you spoke up about a circumstance in which you would have formerly sat quiet.
Pause for a moment and look for the areas in your life where you have “graduated.” You are no longer in training. You have set aside the textbooks of life lessons and lectures and are now setting a course of definite action. You made difficult decisions that showcase your maturity and growth. Enjoy this moment of realization. Celebrate it, even if it feels like a small victory – a victory is a victory. You earned it. You chose better, you did better. You are better. And you’re just getting started!
If you’re struggling and unable to find an area in your life where you can see progress, it is not too late to set a goal today. Write down your goals – and the steps you need to take to reach them. Break down those steps into daily, weekly, or monthly actions. You are more likely to meet your goals if you make them SMART*:
The Stone Foundation is a community of counseling professionals who are committed to helping you live your best life. If we can help you as you “graduate” through life please contact us at 410.296.2004 or visit www.thestonefoundation.com. Please know that this article is intended for general, educational purposes only. This article, and others like it, should not and are not meant to take the place of professional counseling services or medical care.
Leslie J. Sherrod, MSW, LGSW, is an outreach social worker at a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She also has experience providing psychotherapy to children, teens, adults, and families. She is the author of several inspirational novels, including Without Faith, Losing Hope, Secret Place, and Like Sheep Gone Astray. Visit her website www.LeslieJSherrod.com to learn more about Leslie. Find her on social media:Facebook: Leslie J. Sherrod; Twitter: @lesliejsherrod