On Saturday, my homeschooled nephew, Nathaniel, graduated from the 8th grade. The ceremony, put on by his home school co-op, included graduating seniors wearing caps and gowns, and smiles wide with relief and excitement. Now usually at such coming of age events, I find myself struck by how quickly time has passed (Why, wasn’t it just last week I got my own driver’s license…or engagement ring…or first positive pregnancy test?). Not this time, however. The memories I managed to conjure of receiving my own high school diploma, while watching a small class of 2012 parade down the aisle of a church to Pomp and Circumstance, were wispy at best. I think my mind just refused to go there – to fathom what it would feel like to officially start “adulthood” all over again. Eighteen years old, with its paper thin skin and larger than life aspirations, seems a century behind me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for those kids. Their exuberance for the next stage of their life’s journey was quite touching, and even contagious. I’m just also really happy for me. I’m thankful for this other side of thirty-five with its earned scar tissue and penchant for learning just because. I’m thankful for growing ever more comfortable in my thicker, wrinkling skin. Expecting failure now and then, instead of fearing it, has only been good, good, good for me, though that realization, thrust upon me by way of experience, burned like fire. Expecting failure has girded my faith and weakened my pride.
And with the fear of failure diminished, I am free now to throw myself into relationships and endeavors whole heartedly. Having something to prove only dilutes one’s authenticity, generosity and purity of joy. Let the youth have their youth – their sparkliness, smooth complexions and place in the sun! I’m all for embracing the wisdom and dignity of a seasoned soul, a humbled soul, a soul softened, yet strengthened, by perseverance.
I love celebrating with my family all these milestones, and participating in providing an unwavering system of support to each of our own as onward and upward we all go.