Yesterday I walked in the graduation ceremony with my 1L class. I still have one more semester of classes to go so I didn't get that excited about the graduation. At first it just felt like I was going through the formal procedure without having much to really celebrate.
I made the decision to walk with my class at the last minute- a week before hand. And when I called up to reserve my gown and cap regalia, the gown people told me I would have to show up the day of and see if there was anything left. Let's just say that I was totally freaked out that my family would show up to watch me graduate and I would either be turned away from the ceremony due to lack of gowns, or (possibly worse) I would have to wear an XXL gown and look like the wiked witch of the west after she melted (all robe). Everything turned out fine, except that I didn't get to iron my robe. I looked like I was wearing elephant skin.
When I got in line with all my classmates as we prepared to make our grand entrance, it finally hit me. It was likely that I would not see many of these people again. I looked around at all the familiar faces- so happy and confident. Very different than the nervous and timid faces we wore 1L year. Back then we were thinking "What the heck did we just get ourselves into and would we come out alive?" But we did it. Every one of us has a uniquely exciting law school experience. We all were graduating as very different people than when we came in.
My 1L contracts professor was helping at the event and he walked by congratulating us. This was THE PROFESSOR. You know, every one has THE PROFESSOR, the one that really made a difference. The one you will never forget and will be telling stories about for the rest of your life. He knew I had a baby and I have talked with him at many social events. He came up to me and said, "Well, miracles DO happen!" Um...what exactly does it mean when your professor compares your graduation with nothing short of a miracle? Ha ha, not sure how I feel about that.
When we filed into the ceremony room, I saw the stage where our professors were sitting. I saw al our family and friends in the audience. Something powerful came over me and tears started to build up in my eyes. I had been wrong all along. This ceremony actually was starting to mean something to me. It might have been the feeling that I had accomplished something that had been so mentally and emotionally trying. I had finally overcome this three year long battle. Not only had I not let my many struggles beat me, but I also survived my own fears.
Maybe it was the feeling that I had survived, through the sweat, tears and pain and I could finally breath easy. Like the feeling I get at the end of a half marathon. Except this was a three year marathon. I cross the finish line feeling exhausted, tired of fighting my mental demons as well as the physical. I collapse on the ground after having given every ounce of myself. My legs and my lungs hurt like hell but I'm grinning from ear to ear.
Or maybe it was the nastalgia. Knowing that a chapter of my life is almost over. That I can never go back to this time. That this event that I have been anticipating is almost here and gone. It could have been the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. Walking side by side with classmates and being a part of their journey. We had gone through this amazing yet awful experience together. We share something, it may be undescribable, but each one of us feels it.
And here I am. Arriving at a destination I had only DREAMED about three years ago. I made it. I did it. Who knew? Miracles DO happen.