As I sat amongst my cohorts during graduation, I sat in silence while nearly 900 individuals where called up to receive their token of hard work. It almost seemed unreal. Sometimes it still seems unreal. Through laughter, tears, struggle, love, SHINGLES, I was seconds away from hearing my name and walking across a stage to end one of the most impactful and life changing chapters in my life. While each name of the 2017 graduating class was announced, I continued to sit in silence. My peers wondered why I didn’t seem excited or why I was so quiet. I would gently give a smirk, look down at my lap, and continued to read the blue booklet that included the names of the class graduates. I read every single name. Calming my mind and appreciating those who went through their own obstacles to get to where we all were that day. Graduation.
I wish I could say how I felt when my name was read. Relief, excitement, nervous? I honestly don’t remember what I was thinking. The adrenalin and the anticipation to get off the stage while repeating to myself “don’t trip” was overwhelming. Walking across the stage and shaking hands with the president of the University is one fat blur. If I didn’t have a picture to prove it, I would almost not believe it happened. As soon as I sat back in my seat, it all hit me. Holy shit. I just walked across the stage to end my undergrad career. And every single person who did deserves it. I always joke with myself “who is letting me graduate?” or saying I am a hot mess. In all honestly, I am a badass who just graduated with my bachelors in social work! I did it. And I knew it would happen. Yes, I had doubts, but in my heart I always knew that in order to achieve my dreams, I have to accomplish an obstacle. I decided to stop saying it is unbelievable because it is believable! I have learned so much about myself and have pushed myself to abundant amounts of limitations and graduated. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
My heart is full. Beautifully, overwhelmingly full. Through challenging months, I have experienced and witnessed unconditional love from family and friends, but most importantly, I have received this love from myself. An appreciation for my sense of adventure, persistence, and optimistic mindset has evolved, grown, and lightened throughout the years. Most importantly, this has occurred the day I ended my chapter as an undergrad.
I am excited to start my new story. Sunday I leave for a four week adventure in Germany with family. I am grateful to have so many opportunities, and even more grateful to see family that I haven’t seen in awhile. As soon as I return, I begin another adventure with continuing my education in Yoga school. I may have graduated, but this Social Worker will never stand still.
Much love and appreciation.
Nina T. Catalano, BSW 😉