Glitter scrapbook paper, hot glue guns, and rhinestones aren’t what everyone associates with college graduation. However, it’s common for sorority women to take any opportunity to craft, so I’m not sure why I thought this milestone would be any different.
Deciding to decorate my graduation cap wasn’t just an effort to individualize myself in a sea of graduates, upgrade a boring hat, or avoid studying for finals. Rather it was a chance to express what has made these four years possible, and better yet, the four best years of my life.
It may seem silly—and maybe it is, most of the best things are—but we gain so much from learning in some way or another what motivates, energizes, and gets people out of bed in the morning, even if it’s just through a photo.
“Yes you can” is the phrase I have told myself during the longest push-up series imaginable, all-night study sessions, emotionally draining days, and four half marathons. More importantly, it’s the phrase I’ve shouted to my loyal Wednesday night UMN Rec yoga sculpt students for two years, used to ensure friends in times of doubt, and even told my dog during laps around the neighborhood.
It’s a personal mantra, and the best part is, it’s not personal. It’s not mine, I believe I stumbled upon it through CorePower classes four years ago as a freshman, and it stuck for the remainder of my college experience, and has no plans to disappear. It’s not mine, because it resonates with the ears it lands on. I have many friends and sorority sisters who will tell me they hear me voicing this mantra as they reach a difficult part of their workout or life. It’s built and nourished by a community and support system that has maintained my enthusiasm, positivity, and sanity when I couldn’t do it alone. This graduation isn’t personal.
The pearls hugging the rim of the cap represent Alpha Gamma Delta, as it is our chapter jewel. Words can’t describe the role this chapter and these women have played in my college experience or life, so it only made sense for the pearls to tie everything together. That’s what Alpha Gam has always done for me, I’ve said here is the laundry list of what I want to accomplish, the types of lasting friendships I want to sustain, and the responsibility I want to take on. Even when these combinations created a bit of chaos, there was comfort knowing I was protected by a safe space where I could be authentic, try something new, and most importantly, find out what should not be tried again.
Finally, the lilac lotus flower. If you’re an avid SarahReedit reader (consider it), you’ll know the lilac wasn’t coincidental. Lotus flowers grow, nourish, and strengthen through mud before blossoming into the gorgeous flowers we recognize from the local yoga studio or hippie neighbor. My college experience wasn’t mud, my life hasn’t been mud, which I truly express gratitude for every day. However, mud still comes and goes for us all; and recognizing these times as opportunities to blossom even more once it’s gone, is what allows us to notice the beauty in ourselves and around us. We have a lot to learn from the little guys, and I am happy to continue copying them in admiration.
For you, maybe it’s not a hat, or a jewel, or a yoga mantra. But many things, many words, many people have gotten you to where and who you are today. Take the time to celebrate that—diploma or not—and rejoice in what this group effort has created and what is to come.
Yes you can!