Celebration as the Path to Fulfilment
I Graduated from University on Thursday.
It also happened to be my sister’s 27th birthday (she was in Sydney,
where she lives, shopping and test-driving a Peugeot convertible).
I spent three solid years of my life dedicated to that degree and working my arse off
to learn the most I could and achieve the best results I could. However, by the third year
I was quite disillusioned with the institution itself and had stopped caring anywhere near as much
as I wanted to. So uni wasn’t my exact favourite thing in the world at the end, even though I managed to get pretty awesome grades.
Leading up to the graduation I was very blasé about the whole thing.
I think a large part as to why I was so blasé was because I have never really been in the habit of
- Really pausing and recognising my achievements.
- Subsequently celebrating them…
If there’s no recognition or celebration, then where is the juice and incentive to keep moving forward and creating new things? To focus on new goals and projects?
That’s right. There is none. It’s been all used up with no refills on hand.
Celebration is not a ‘must’, it is a ‘YES!!’
And when you think about it, why wouldn’t you?! So crazy.
I was sitting there in my black square hat with the tassel dangling in my face. Continually re-adjusting the ornamental ‘hood’, slung around my shoulders, over my black gown (14th century fashion is really awkward. There is a reason they invented zippers!), staring out at the sea of complimentary rhomboid hats and the ocean of black shoulders beneath it.
The stage was yet to be filled with other Alumni and very important people whose titles I don’t know (except for the Vice-Chancellor. I remember him. He’s the one who fired all the great lecturers and slashed the awesome media and arts subjects.). I mused upon the velvet curtains they’d draped to hide the ugly brown brick wall at the back of the stage. I had been trying to perceive this whole meaningless graduation thing from another perspective.
I acknowledged my feelings of
Yes, if I had a choice again, I would choose to go to art school and not university.
Yes, all of the fruits of these three years ARE only within me and not actualised outside myself, except for this one piece of paper. So yeah, there is no ‘proof’ that I’ve achieved anything, really.
No, it does not guarantee me a single thing in this world.
Yes, the degree was a great disappointment in many ways.
I acknowledged the thing within me that said “You’re nearly 30 and you have very little to show for yourself. You may have a degree, but actually, you’re still a failure.”
Yeah. Hi, little voice with big weight inside me.
And then I remembered something.
Among the other reasons I chose to go to university (I thought it would make me more qualified in life. I was sick and tired of being perceived as an ‘airy fairy hippy.’ I wanted my spirituality to be perceived as valid and thought receiving an intellectually based credential was the way to go about merging the spiritual and every day. I thought it was the way I could be taken seriously. I thought those were the people who I wanted to be validated by. I also wanted to be intellectually stimulated – I felt like I’d turned into a zombie – and I wanted to be creative. Two major reasons I shouldn’t forget to mention.) was because I had a story in my mind that I didn’t finish things. Had I just taken one look at the way I did relationships at that time (quite often to the bitter end!) I would have known that wasn’t true.
So I was sitting there, thinking of all the trials, hardships, out and out crises, house moves, relationship challenge, bureaucracy, being dirt poor, overwork, life transformation and effort that had gone into those three years. All the things and reasons I could have validly stopped at anytime. I thought about the fact that I’m a naturally right brained person who had chosen to work within a more left-brain oriented context (even while working with more right-brained subjects). I thought about the way in which choosing to go to university had been such a sacrifice for me as I knew it meant I wouldn’t be able to travel freely as I had done for the previous 5-6 years.
I thought about the fact that I had discovered my love of screenplay wiring, written a number of short films, created the framework for a feature I’m working on at the moment, created, produced, directed and acted within 2 video pieces as a part of a major installation art piece, as well as writing, co-producing, directing and co-editing my first ever short film. I got to do a lot of cool stuff at uni: help create, co-write, and host on a TV show, make performance on a regular basis, act in other people’s films, learn spanish in a grammatically correct way and learn how to thoroughly research the shit out of any topic and write an kickarse essay on it. I got to learn how to structure my thinking in a much more concise (and not quite as nebulous) way and then communicate that with people.
But mostly I found out something, which my father had always said about me, which I never really believed… which is that I finish what I start. What I realised the next part of that statement is, is ‘when it’s important to me’. And it’s that bit that’s most important.
Because if something isn’t aligned with you, and/or if you don’t enjoy it, if you’re just pushing through and there aren’t any rewards at all… then you should probably consider ditching it. Whose values are you really trying to fulfil anyway? Cause if it isn’t in your values, then believe me, it won’t work!
In that moment, all of my disenchantment, blasé-ness and indifference melted. Suddenly I felt pride in myself and recognised my achievement. Because that’s what it is to dedicate your life to something challenging, for any length of time, and achieve the outcome you started with. It’s an achievement. I set out to obtain a Bachelor of Creative Arts and get top grades doing it and that’s what I did. And it was hard. I was tenacious and dedicated and I did it.
I marched up on that stage with my shoulders back and head high and received my handshake and certificate with full presence and recognition that I deserved to be on that stage, in front of hundreds of people. I deserved to be clapped and celebrated, because I had worked my arse off to be there. And I had done a really great job. It wasn’t just a piece of paper I was up there to receive. I was up there to receive recognition and celebration. And they are important, human, necessary things to receive in life.
If we don’t recognise our achievements and celebrate them:
- There’s no incentive to keep going forwards.
- There is no pride, self-worth or healthy self-esteem for what you are capable of. If you don’t value yourself and your work, then how will anyone else, and therefore, how will anyone benefit from what you have to offer in life? How will YOU?
I would like to thank the people who supported me, loved me, studied with me kept me sane and made me laugh through this time. Also, the family and friends who made the effort to spend a beautiful day and evening to celebrate this achievement.
Without each other, life would be impossible!
So many chapters are closing for me.
Many things are coming to an end.
And I can feel the opening of a vast world of possibility
That I’ve never even conceived of before, because I never really realised
my own capacity before. I don’t know that I fully have yet.
I’m excited and grateful to be moving into this next stage of my life.
I have a lot of gifts, tools, wisdom, experience, knowledge and joy
to bring to it.
Here’s to celebrating our achievements.
Celebrating both our own, and our friend’s!
Let’s do it more!
Verbally, loudly and joyfully!
For the good of all!
What are you celebrating right now?