(I will preface all of this by saying that yes, I’m writing this right now when I have to a) pack up my room, b) vacuum, c) clean, d) run all over campus and get errands done before about 1 PM, so that I actually have time for a nap and a shower before my first commencement reception. I got 4 hours of sleep last night. Clearly, the answer is a blog post.)
This May is the month of tears.
It’s not a sad month. It’s just a wildly emotional month. One of the most emotional months of my life, probably. Right up there with September 2010 (first semester of college), July 2012 (when I left for Chile), December 2012 (when I left Chile for the US), and July 2013 (when I left Chile for the US the second time).
Most of the emotions are happy ones. Pride, joy, love, all of those. There’s a few others in there: fear, anxiety, sadness, things like that. So why all of the emotions?
I graduate from college this weekend. Senior week ended last night with a visit to the Grotto (where I remarkably teared up but did not actually cry. Too many people around? Not that that’s ever stopped me before.), and today begins the official University Commencement celebrations. I have two formal receptions, then Baccalaureate Mass, then the university-wide commencement ceremony, and then my college ceremony, where I will finally receive my diploma. This happens over the course of three days.
On Monday, I move out of my dorm and hustle right back to Milwaukee where we will start celebrating my brother’s high school graduation. His senior awards ceremony is that night, so the tears of sadness of departing my beloved residence hall and university will quickly change over to tears of pride for the young man he has become. He also has a Mass and a graduation ceremony the next weekend. More tears. My youngest brother graduates from middle school the following week, but at that point it will be June and the tears should abate.
This BuzzFeed article was incredibly well-timed. And accurate. Did I tear up when I read it? Take a guess.
All of the emotions surrounding commencement- pride for my accomplishments, excitement that I’m finished, uncertainty about the future, love for my friends and family, and so on- haven’t hit me in a big wave yet. It comes in bits and pieces. For instance, I cried a little when we sang the Alma Mater at the end of our last dorm Mass a couple weeks ago, but not at the Grotto prayer service last night. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what my friendships will be like once we’re not together anymore, but I didn’t really cry about it until my boss made us a CD and put this song on it:
Listen to the song. Listen to those lyrics. I knew the song already. When she started playing it in the office one day, my eyes welled up after the first two notes. I begged her to change it. Instead, she turned it up and handed me a box of tissues. That was a good moment…then I was just playing the CD while I was packing yesterday, and the song came on again. I got through the first couple notes and thought I’d be fine. Nope. Definitely cried again. Like Pavlov’s dog.
Emotions are healthy. I have no problem with crying in situations like these. I do have a problem with how my eyes swell up and are basically impossible to de-puff for hours and hours afterwards. Considering this will be one of the most photographed weekends of my life…it’s going to be challenging.
I know I cry a little more than most people. Some friends have said that they wish they could cry more. Not everybody processes emotions through tears. To me, the tears mean that this experience- everything and everyone who got me here today- has meant so much to me that there’s nothing else I can do but express how I feel. And my brain decides it wants to express those feelings with tears.
So if you see me running around this weekend in my cap and gown, with my face all splotchy and my eyes all puffy, don’t worry. I haven’t gotten broken up with (not like that was an option to begin with), I haven’t gotten into a fight. I’m just really, really happy/sad/proud/anxious/overwhelmed with feelings.