A full year has passed since my graduation from Full Sail University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
It feels like it was yesterday, and it also feels like it was decades ago.
So much has changed. So much is new. So much is old.
I’ve always thought that rapid growth and change only occurred in children; you know, the noticeable, tangible changes that you recognize every time you see them after a short absence. I assumed, with adults, change was more subtle and only noticeable if you did something physically drastic, such as lose weight, change your hair, or have a sex change operation.
Little did I realize how much change I was truly capable of and how quickly I could make it happen. From the day I began the BFA in March 2011 to graduation in October 2013, an evolution began. It was less noticeable in the beginning… other than a loss of free time, few noticed the drastic transformation and maturation occurring under the surface.
By the time I walked the stage, several people had noticed a difference in me, but maybe couldn’t pinpoint it.
Now, a year later, most of my friends wouldn’t recognize the old me. Physically, I’m very different – brunette instead of blonde, about 30 pounds lighter, a little wilder with my clothing – but the greatest changes have taken place internally.
I’ve traded naiveté for experience.
I’ve traded blind optimism for realistic perspective.
I’ve traded hope and luck for planning and perseverance.
I’ve traded dreaming for doing.
I’ve traded faith in “things will work out” to “I will work things out.”
I’ve traded belief in perfection to acceptance and compromise as the secrets to true happiness.
I’ve traded sleep for success, complacency for hunger, and comforts for challenge.
I love harder, care deeper, and hurt more.
The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. The harder I work, the more I realize I’m not doing enough. I’ve discovered a darker side of me, a side prone to bouts of depression, a side of me that was always there but I somehow suppressed for many years.
I’m not upset about this side of me. Quite the opposite, actually. While I prefer to be happy – I am still a cheerful and bubbly person despite all of this evolution – I’ve learned that the darker side of me serves a greater purpose.
She’s introspective – she makes me look at myself, acknowledge my faults, and work to change them.
She’s self-deprecating, which seems counter-intuitive to progress, but her disappointment in me makes me want to try harder, not give up.
She’s poetic – somewhere in that darkness, she finds hope. She wraps her hands around it, a pearl in the muck, and shields it. She gives me the words and inspiration I need to write.
A year after my graduation, I am a different woman. Yes, a woman: I left my days of girlhood behind somewhere on that stage, perhaps when I hugged a particular teacher or walked to the podium to give my Valedictorian speech, I’m not sure.
I am a different woman, and I like her. I may still be getting used to her, but she’s going to stick around for a very long time and those that love me are OK with that, so I am too.
Optimistic for a beautiful graduation anniversary,
~ Victoria Elizabeth