Graduation.

Rebecca Ann Laird. Psychological Sciences.

That’s what they said.  They read it off my little green card.  As I stood on the marker, waiting to hear my name before I could walk across the stage and accept my diploma folder, I could feel my blood rushing.  I know that’s what they said because it was on the card, but all I heard was “Rebecca,”

I couldn’t stop smiling.  Earlier in the week I was making remarks about how I wish my parents didn’t insist on me participating in the ceremony, but in that moment of being handed a fancy folder that didn’t actually contain anything of value, I felt so proud of myself.

I still am.  I am proud of myself.  I am inspired by what I actually overcame to get to this point.  I teared up when one of the speakers mentioned overcoming personal obstacles to reach this point. I wasn’t expecting that to be mentioned, and I had this moment of, Oh yeah.

Five years isn’t that long.  It’s flown by.  But if you go back to when I was 19-21, camped out at rock bottom, trying to find happiness at the bottom of a bottle, and then look at who I am now, it doesn’t even look like the same person.

I am inspired. To be better. To do more. To try new things.

Even after I began to start over, I still held myself back because I felt ashamed of my experience. I’m done with that. I have finally forgiven myself for my actions during that time period.  I’m not proud, but I did the best I could at the time.  The details really do not matter anymore.  The only thing that matters is that I am alive.

I’m not going to settle because I’m afraid or because I feel like I don’t deserve to be happy or achieve great things.

I hope the memory of walking across that stage remains as vivid as it is in my mind right now.  It was this moment of clarity, where everything fell into place, and I felt it. This is just the beginning.

I held my empty diploma folder above my head as I walked off that stage and out of the gymnasium, and even though my feet were KILLING me, I couldn’t stop smiling and I felt like I was on top of the god damn world.

What’s next?

Well, let’s find out.

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