As a senior and psychology major, I can’t stress the importance of self-reflection and gratitude in terms of where one is headed and where one has been. This is especially important for any graduating class.
This aspect of the mind was increasingly apparent when I began having a temporary existential crisis at Peet’s coffee after a morning bike-ride with a close friend.
As I read the school newspaper, I was triggered into a state of anxiety and mild lethargy in where I came to the realization that being a functional and productive member of society was required of me after the ritual which we call graduation, was over.
There I was, facing said responsibility with a quiet sense of apprehension.
Furthermore, reading about debt, despair, inequality, racism, sexism and any other modality of suffering we cause to ourselves as a species wasn’t helping. Chronic alcoholism or a retreat to a permanent state of cynicism was quite appealing at that point in time.
It wasn’t until a mother and three of her children walked into the room. Soon after, her daughter began waving and laughing at me when I waved back. This purely Gestalt moment, in where we were both present in body, mind and most importantly experience dawned on me as important in terms of its richness.
Keep in mind I was the friend who “happens to be black,” as comedian George Carlin put it.
Regardless, we both laughed back and forth, expressing a moment of joy, which was both emotionally and behaviorally expressive and devoid of preconceived notions, prejudices, ideologies, complexes or any other excessive defense mechanisms.
She reminded me of the joy that any moment can hold, but more significantly the importance of putting the known aside and, as Aldous Huxley said, opening another door to a different perception.
In retrospect, she was a reminder of the space between the known and unknown. A reminder which cued me to think of the possibilities after senior year. The change I can attempt to cause. The joy I can ignite or the suffering I can ensue. All were possibilities, but I was responsible for all choices I made and have made thus far into my academic career.
As I left Peet’s riding back to campus, my friend and I crossed Rancho Cotate High and I was forced to take advantage of the chance at reflection.
Encapsulating the whole experience, it’s important for seniors to take time out of their days and reflect on their own personal timeline and history. In other words, where have you been? What happened along the way that shaped you as an individual? From senior year forward, what can change? What can stay the same?
These questions are important for triggering a reflective mode of thought. Despite their importance, it’s also equally meaningful to remain grateful for all of the experiences that have manifested in your own personal time-space experience.
Lastly, let the space between the known and unknown guide you well after college.
Whether it’s graduate school, internships, moving back home or completely and utterly failing at being an “adult” let this space direct your path.
Don’t despair but also don’t be naïve, challenges are ahead but with these items in your toolbox, you should fare well in society.