Thoughts & Feelings: The Commencement Edition

In the ongoing attempt to understand how to untangle the various negative thoughts in my head, I continue to blog and delete, and write and erase. I search phrases on the internet, hoping to come across someone else’s experience that sounds like mine; if only to find comfort in not feeling alone. Then type more words and hover my finger over the publish button. If my writing helps someone else in their grief, then my pain is not for nothing.

Today could have included a formal ceremony to mark the completion of my fourth graduate degree. I finished it the day before last year’s commencement. But since the final grades were recorded after the deadline for that ceremony, my name appeared in today’s program.

Blue and yellow colors are the University of Rochester. The pink hood is the doctorate of musical arts from the Eastman School of Music.

I wanted to process with the faculty, as I have done for ten years in the doctoral robes I earned in 1997. Each time I wore my robes, a few other faculty or administrators would do a double take seeing me wearing them. Yes Virginia, there are academics who choose a different career path because they see the most use of their talents and passions outside the traditional route.

I participate in the ceremony to honor the students. It’s important to have their accomplishment recognized. In the immortal words of Vice President Joe Biden, “It’s a big, f*cking deal.”

My idea to celebrate the Masters of Educational Leadership degree was to leave the faculty area when the college of education read the names of their graduates. I would cue up in line with my name card, hand it to the reader and walk across the stage, then return to my seat with the faculty. Since I had been balancing administrative duties with teaching AND earning a degree, why not continue the same balance in the ceremony? But the protocol rules of regalia required I rent a masters robe and sit with the other graduates to receive the honor of having my name read aloud.

I have only participated in one college commencement ceremony in which I was recognized as a graduate in front of family and friends; thirty years ago. Schedule, travel, or financial limitations got in the way of the other ceremonies.  I could have been there today… but…

Most days I feel like I’m over the grief of losing my administrative position. But today I would have had to face a few people who trigger feelings of anger. Even though I understand how the decision was made, I just wish they would say three simple words. The fact that they’ve not said anything to me at all is what hurts even more.

Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram today was tough. I was happy to see my students celebrating. And frustrated with myself for not being totally over it yet. I missed another chance to honor myself. This was my last chance for that, too.

I found an article today that helped me reflect on these feelings. I know I have a toxic level of grudge; and it will take more time for me to move on. Until then, these are the pieces of ephemera to mark the achievement.

62 of 100


2 thoughts on “Thoughts & Feelings: The Commencement Edition

  1. I have learned so much in leaving that was so much less visible to me while being immersed in it. Apologies take a desire to restore and a desire to restore comes from conscienceness and soul and a grounding in your own institutional dentity…I don’t think I could have ever known how absent this was from *that place* while being immersed in my 16 year institutional experience. Mentors galore and a phenomenal training ground for sure (I owe that place a huge debt of gratitude)…but the intangibles that create the human fabric …woah! Your writing is wonderful and congrats on your most recent accomplishment!

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