anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
~ David Whyte, The House of Belonging
My husband teaches there, so of course he’ll be going. I’ll go because my friend Susan, a teacher who has inspired generations of kids, is the commencement speaker and her daughter – a lovely, powerful young woman – is graduating.
I’m always touched by how aware these kids are of the love and support of their community. It shows up in their speeches, their performances, and the open-hearted playfulness they bring to the event.
And it is bittersweet, because it is abundantly clear that it is time for them to leave this little pond behind and find their own way – ready or not. To do anything else would stunt them. Plus, it would get painfully awkward.
So all of this has me thinking a lot about graduation.
Does it bring you alive? Know when it's time to graduate.
What are you ready to graduate from?
- Friendship agreements that drain you and keep you small?
- A teacher that once served you well but whose work is now complete?
- A religious community that doesn’t allow you to be true to who you are?
- A job that once stimulated you but now sucks the life out of you?
First, I asked her what would happen if she simply decided to not go?
(That is an option, Dearheart. You don’t have to do anything. You get to choose).
She thought about how she would feel about her commitment to her team if she skipped it. That didn't feel good, so she decided she would choose to show up for them and for some special students.
(HINT: That’s where your power lies. You make the choice. And if you’re going to do it, know why.)
So, since she decided she would go, what could she do to make it feel better?
She thought for a minute and then declared, “I will make this the last graduation I ever need to attend. Next year at this time, I will have a different job.”
Boom. Everything felt lighter.
She decided to graduate from graduation.
She even made herself a “Happy Graduation from Graduation” card. (I love this woman.)
What are You Ready to Graduate From?
5 Steps to Graduate with Grace
Here's one of the most reliable tools for making a big decision like this: Listen to your body.
When you imagine staying, notice what it feels like in your body (your belly, your chest, your shoulders, your throat, your jaw, your head). Does it feel heavy or light? Constricted or expansive? Does staying feel too small for you?
When you imagine leaving, does it feel like freedom?
This is when it’s time to be your own best friend. What makes you feel most alive?
If you choose to stay, come up with WHY you’re staying. Is that “why” enough? Does it feel loyal to you? If so, awesome.
But if that “why” doesn’t feel loyal to you, then it’s probably time to graduate, Dearheart. Congratulations!
2. Set your Graduation Date
To determine your graduation date, return to Step 1. Imagine leaving in 6 months. In three months. Next week. Right this minute. What does each one feel like in your body?
What timing would help you feel really good about leaving?
3. Hand out awards.
Ask yourself, “What are three gifts or lessons that this person or thing has given me?”
Who are the people that have made it special?"
Even if it’s just in your own heart, recognizing how this relationship or place has made you stronger will help you feel more empowered. Plus, gratitude feels good!
It is normal and appropriate at graduation to feel a blend of the sadness of saying goodbye and the excitement (and scariness!) of looking ahead to new, open horizons. Take time to honor both.
As you mark this rite of passage, celebrate! Give yourself a gift of ritual or a fun experience to mark the occasion.
Write yourself a graduation card, saying how proud you are of you for arriving at this moment. Write the hopes and intentions you have for yourself as you move forward.
Happy Graduation, Dearheart.
P.S. Is there something you’re ready to graduate from? Declare it in the comments below and let us know how it goes!