I attended a college graduation this year and a high school graduation last year. Most graduation speeches follow a somewhat predictable formula of using a metaphor for this new beginning and then inspiring the graduates to go out and make a difference in the world. In the whirlwind of the celebration, I wonder if those speeches are a bit lost on the near-adults sitting in rows wearing caps and gowns. After their investment of time and energy in schooling and extra-curricular activities, are they focused on what the speaker is encouraging them to do? Or are they just so relieved to be done that the speech washes over them?
Personally, I am a complete sucker for the emotion and expectations of the graduation season, and I find myself inspired by the speeches, even though I’m not the one “commencing” a new season of life. Or am I?
Perhaps graduation speeches really are for those of us at different stages of life, commencing with each day. Often speakers emphasize that “real life” starts after graduation from school, but I think real life is every stage, every season, every phase.
As women who are influencers in our world—at work, community, church, home, family, school and more—we are cyclical, seasonal beings, in the real life of all our days. There is always a beginning and an ending, and since most of us carry many roles, the transitions overlap and interweave in a crazy-quilt of moments. Some are significant enough to warrant ceremonies—graduations, weddings, funerals, and birthdays—but others are the quiet realization of our own personal transitions and seasons of change.
Recently, tried to set aside a part of a day for reflection, for sitting on my porch and considering my season and call. Some of my thoughts shifted as a result of that day, qualifying it as what I will call a “commencement”—if only a commencement of new thinking. No “Pomp and Circumstance,” no speeches, just a few notes penned in my journal and revised for my blog. But I was open to thinking about my season of life in a new way.
For those of you who might not know anyone graduating right now, I’m sure you can find some inspiring (and probably less-than-inspiring) graduation speeches on YouTube, or you can hum “Pomp and Circumstance” as you take a walk around the block, and you can consider your own seasonality and circumstances. Where is your influence shifting? Where are you being called to step up and lead? It might be a large new season of commencement for you, or the daily commencement of celebrating the challenges of today and choosing to think differently about tomorrow, whatever it may bring.
Written by Carla Foote
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