When I think of May, yes I am excited for the flowers to bloom and it to get a tad warmer. I’m excited about the dawning of days where an exam is absent so you can sleep in a little later. But, this year, May means something entirely different. May means graduation. Classes of 2018 everywhere are coming to grips with the fact that they are moving on with their lives in some way or another. Whether it be going to college or stepping out of academia into the real world for the rest of their lives, people are moving forward this May and for some of us, we are taking part in this step forward for the first time.

As a senior, I find it hard to believe that I am on my way out. I have been a part of the same institution for 12 years, and therefore a part of the same family for 12 years. I have had the luxury and privilege, and slight disadvantage, of never leaving the fold once. I, along with so many others like me, have never had to reinvent themselves for a new family, for a new institution. I have been able to let the family and institution invent me. But now it is the time to be invented at a new place with a new family. But first, one must graduate.

Up until now, graduation has always been a distant concept to me. Graduation was something other people did. Graduations were things that I participated in as a spectator, not as a graduate. Who knew that the arrival of a singular month would put it all in perspective. The arrival of a singular month usually so insignificant to my life would become one of the most important months in my 18 years of living. I also imagined caps and gowns as belonging to other people, never to myself. I knew that one day I would wear one because graduation is inevitable after all, but at the same time, it always seemed far off. I also knew that one day I would don a long white dress and walk down the aisle in order to receive my diploma. Again, I’d seen pictures and I knew what to expect and I imagined myself in their place – smiling, done with high school, reveling in the new sensations that going off to college would bring – but I still felt that those feelings were far off. But how wrong I have been. In 9 days, I will no longer be a high school student in Memphis, TN. I will have left high school behind and taken my first steps towards college and the adventures that will bring.

So now, when I think of May, I still think of blooming flowers and insufferable pollen counts. I think of smiles and excitement over the small, seemingly insignificant things. But now, I also think of caps and gowns and diplomas. I think of leaving a family behind in search of a new one. I think of long white dresses and an aisle that is eerily reminiscent of a wedding, but it’s overlooked. I think of taking a step forward into new adventures. So, yes, May does mean graduation, but there’s more to it than that. Don your white dress or your cap and gown and take a step forward into a new family, a new adventure, a new setting. Graduation doesn’t mean closing a chapter forever, it means shelving it while you write a new one.