Graduation Rituals

Stepping into the new chapter in life is always challenging. Sometimes it’s planned and intentional, sometimes it’s unexpected and painful. Sometimes we fight against the change, we want the “old” back. Sometimes we grieve. Sometimes we just want to move forward and forget the “before”. Sometimes we transition over slowly, sometimes the change is immediate.

There are some changes when there is no “way back”. In some cases you might grieve your loss, but in the past years I’ve found another analogy which can be applied in some life situations: graduation.

Graduating from a school is not just about receiving a piece of paper, it’s a significant milestone that marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It’s usually an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with nostalgia, excitement, fear, and hope.

Closing down a phase in life might be similar: it allows us to reflect on our growth, accomplishments, and challenges faced along the way. It’s like turning the page to start fresh in a new chapter – embracing change and stepping into the unknown with courage. It’s an opportunity to redefine ourselves, set new goals, and chase our dreams with renewed spirit and energy.

When I graduated from high school, it was definitely a big thing in my life: not only closing down my studies in that particular school, but just a few months later, I moved to a new city to start my university studies. First time living without my parents, firts time taking care of my financials, and everything else in my life. At the time of my graduation, I did not know yet, but a few months later, I also needed to start working to be able to finance my studies… I needed to grow up, fast.

Too many things happened in the next few years. Besides my studies, I needed to work hard to get the ends meet. My parents divorced. My relationship with my mother became very rough. Slowly I gave up on having fun, just tried to focus on not giving up…

And when finally I received my MSc in Computer Science, I did not go to my own graduation ceremony…

I felt there is nothing to celebrate.

“Nothing changesI needed to work hard, and from now I have to keep working hard…” I thought the only difference would be that I could work hard full-time now…

Besides that, I could not cope with the thought of having both of my parents at the graduation ceremony either, who, by that time, totally stopped talking with each other… I also didn’t want to invite only one of them – emotionally, it was easier not to invite anyone.

At that time, being as insecure as I was, it was painful and hurt like hell, but felt like the right decision…

Almost twenty years and some other big life changes later, I understand now why saying goodbye to past phases of life is so important for our growth and well-being. It allows us to let go of what no longer serves us, make room for new experiences, and embrace personal transformation.

Reflecting on the past phases helps us acknowledge our growth, learn from our mistakes, and celebrate our achievements. It’s like closing a chapter in a book – it gives us closure and prepares us for the next exciting chapter.

As we bid farewell, it’s also important to remember not to blame anyone or feel any guilt. Instead, let’s embrace the lessons learned and the growth experienced during that period. Every chapter, no matter how challenging or rewarding, has played a vital role in shaping us into the individuals we are today. Each moment, whether joyful or difficult, has contributed to our personal evolution and journey.

By saying goodbye to the past, we free ourselves from emotional baggage and create space for new opportunities, relationships, and experiences to come into our lives. It’s a powerful act of self-love and self-care that paves the way for a brighter future.

Do I feel guilty about missing my own graduation ceremony? No, I don’t. Back then, being the person I was, that was the best I could do, even if it resulted in not properly closing down that phase of my life.

No regrets. No guilt. No blame.

But honestly, I feel sadness for the girl I was back then. I’ve been working, and still do work hard to overcome the emotional baggage she had to carry. I also had my own “graduation ritual” to be able to move forward. I needed to learn that my life has moved forward, that I’ve grown and changed. I needed to adapt. Sometimes I feel I needed to catch up with my own life…

Graduation might feel like grieving, with all kinds of emotions. It’s a process, a transition. Much more than just that one-hour-long ceremony in your school or university. And yes, you can have your own graduation ritual, to say farewell to a phase in your life, at any major changes or milestones in your life. It takes courage to face our past selves and find ways to heal and grow from those wounds. Remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection. Each step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

I am a transformational life coach, supporting high achieving professionals on the journey to find their true calling, and pursue their dreams. Ever wonder who you would be if you got past the fear? Curious what you could be capable of if you shed the blocks holding you back? I am here to help you to discover.

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