Here’s to the Class of 2021

Well, we’re reaching the end of the line: our college careers are almost over. Graduation and the “real world” loom in the not-to-distant future. Some of us will probably grow apart over the next few years as we seek to start our own lives and define our own destinies. Some of us might not even see each other again. But that’s okay. All of that is okay.

The last year and a half has been tough for us all. We had our senior year robbed from us. Some of us have had loved ones lose their lives to this terrible pandemic. Others have struggled to find hope amid the bleak onslaught of bad news. Even now, as we start to emerge from our homes after a year or so in isolation, it can be hard to reconnect with the things that give us meaning and purpose in life. Again, that’s okay. It will be okay.

Every generation has its challenges to overcome. I won’t pretend that our generation has had it harder than anyone else, but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had more than our fair share of difficulties. Most of us were two or three when the Twin Towers fell. Many of us watched with concern as our loved ones struggled to overcome the Great Recession. We’ve endured a once-in-a-century pandemic and borne witness to the kind of hatred that can topple great nations. In short, our lives have been a two-decade-long emotional rollercoaster.

And yet, all of us alive today continue to find a reason to get out of bed each morning. We all find a reason to carry on, be it for a family member, a friend, a pet or even for our own sake. Life is good— it teaches us so much about ourselves, each other and the world around us. Even in the midst of great hardship and pain, the universe speaks to us in strange and mysterious ways. We have to keep listening.

The path before us is unknown, and that can be scary. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be unsure of what you want to do. And, above all, it’s okay to take time for yourself. Do some soul-searching. Read a couple self-help books. Go to therapy. Breathe. You don’t have to figure everything out right this second. In fact, most people make it up as they go along. 

But right now, take a moment to treasure what you’ve accomplished over the past four years. Heck, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve accomplished over the past 20 years. Savor this moment, because fulfillment can be fleeting. Look forward to hard work, good company and the years to come. Understand that, while times may get hard, there is always something worth sticking around for.

With any luck, our class will be the last to graduate during the COVID-19 pandemic. While our younger peers will be able to physically walk across the stage at their own graduation, we must be content with a wave into a distant camera. This isn’t the end to our college career many of us had hoped for, but it is still an end. It will also be a new beginning. Let’s make the most of it.

Congratulations, Class of 2021. We did it.