Last week I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. After 21 years of higher education (on and off), I felt a tremendous relief at being finally done (at least with this part of my education).
My family and I made the 5 hour drive to Greenville, North Carolina to the ECU campus. As a distance ed student, I had not only never set foot on campus but had to look on a map to see where the campus was. The drive there gave me lots of time to reflect on my college (and life) experience–in between the kids asking “are we there yet?”
The next day at the graduation ceremony I lined up with the sea of 20-something year olds and walked across the stage to get my degree. I chuckled to myself when those who walked before me discovered that instead of their college degree they were actually holding an invitation to join the ECU Alumni Association. Welcome to the real world!
As I went back to my seat, I thought I would feel something…more…satisfied…accomplished. I didn’t. Instead, I suddenly realized that the important part had already happened–the journey. I felt satisfied when I received my final grades. I felt accomplished when I created a marketing plan for the ALA Learning Round Table for my PR strategies course. I felt excited when I interviewed Katherine Ramsland about the literary works of Anne Rice. I realize now that all of the joy and excitement came from the actual learning not the ceremony.
Still, I’m glad that my children got to watch me walk across the stage. Well actually just one of my children. My youngest thought it would be more fun to run barefoot, up and down the halls singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
This got me to think about parenting. Being a parent to two young children is not easy. But everyone tells me that it’s over before you know it. I remind myself daily that parenting is about the journey–good and bad.
There are so many analogies where this is true and so many cliches that I won’t repeat any of them expect to say this: The next time you find yourself completely stressed out or overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath, and remind yourself that life, like learning, is about the journey not the destination.