“Going deep is the sensation of being more completely inserted into and aware of the world; it’s that dizzying and moving moment of encountering some powerful new insight—insight that moves us and changes us and that makes us larger, more capacious, more complete human beings.”

-President Bro Adams, Baccalaureate speech for the class of 2012

Colby 2012 graduates-to-be, lined up (sort of) for the Baccalaureate march

Bro’s words buzzed in my eardrums as I sat suspended in a sea of Colby graduates-to-be, clad in shiny black robes and universally unflattering black hats. Sitting in Lorimer Chapel’s pews and sweating in places where I didn’t think sweat glands existed, this notion of “going deep” brought me back to a similar challenge that my friend, Dan Barrett, announced on our last day of studying in Costa Rica: to swim against the stream of popularized advice of”doing something small” and “it’s always the small things that count the most,” and instead do something BIG. And on that sweltering afternoon, something (other than itchy graduation robes to my sweating back) stuck.

I noticed the yellow slips of paper punctuating the crowd of almost-graduates, sitting in laps and crumpled up under chairs, some filled out and some cheerfully ignored. Handed out to us by Colby’s career center staff, these slips were loaded with terse interrogatives that made me want to break out in hives:

“Will you have a job this fall?”

“Are you starting a graduate program of study this fall?”

“Do you have a summer job?”

Which of course, I read as:

“How are you going to explain Global Studies/Environmental Studies/pre-medical track? What does Global Studies even mean?”

“Where will you find a boat fast enough in which to race away from the tsunami of debt that is about to drown your heart and soul in the form of monthly payments as soon as your diploma is in your hand?”

“How many of your friends have jobs while you still don’t?”

“Can I graduate if I haven’t paid my 7 parking tickets yet?”

(Okay, that last one was on my mind anyway)

But as I heard Bro’s words and remembered Dan’s, I crumpled up the little yellow monster in my hand, smiled, and breathed in deep. And I promised myself that as the inevitable waves of self-doubt, frustration, confusion, disenchantment, and blatant denial washed over me in my post-Colby search for a job and attempts to prove that I am in fact a productive, not parasitic, member of human society– I would remember this moment. I mean, really remember it. And I would remember to take comfort in, and advantage of, the impending post-graduate freedom and unbridled possibility instead of letting it diminish my morale. This is the first time I haven’t had some sort of life-plan structure since I was 3, after all (you start kindergarten at age 3 in Dubai… breeding early blooming prodigies left and right).

I would remember to cultivate eunoia – or “beautiful thinking” – and spend my time nurturing real relationships with pervasive, magnetic, brilliant people and earn myself a cache of unforgettable experiences that will be my life’s true accomplishment. I would remember to recognize moments of ineffable contentment and happiness completely unrelated to my bank balance. And, I would swallow the lump rising in my throat and breathe deep and remember that

change is natural; change is good.

And then I graduated – with poise.

Advertisements