A while back my school gave us a pre-graduation checklist of sorts that required students to travel around campus on a “signature scavenger hunt” so that representatives of various departments could sign a single, increasingly valuable piece of paper. Some of them were easy (turn in your scrub machine card, return locker keys), while others had multiple dependencies (take ACLS class, present proof of completion to rotation coordinator so coordinator will sign for completed ACLS in a paper “Red Book”, turn in Red Book for checklist signature). Ensuring this Master Form got signed and delivered to the appropriate person was the final hurdle to ensuring that the folder handed out during this weekend’s ceremony did, in fact, contain a diploma.
Thanks to fitness tracking I learned that I walked about five kilometers over several days sojourning between various buildings, realizing I needed to go elsewhere first, discovering that office had already closed, and so forth. Finally, I had everything completed. I handed in the form, Rosalyn briefly checked things on her computer before looking at me. “You’re good.”
I stared back, dumbly. For eight years there had always been more to do, new obstacles to surmount, one more step to complete in an endless journey. With that last form, it was all over. It was an incredibly weird feeling, like looking over the edge of a cliff before jumping into the ocean water below.
“Congratulations.” I realized I was still standing in front of Roslyn’s desk. “Oh, thank you!” I walked out of the office much more slowly than I had walked in. I’d been seeing all of these people for one reason or another since the day I started here, and there would never be another reason to do so again. At last I felt confident enough to post my graduation portraits on Facebook, pictures I’ve quietly been holding on to since March.
I’m nervous going into this weekend. I don’t feel prepared at all, despite the steady stream of emails arriving with instructions for where and when I need to show up. I think part of me is still afraid that there is another barrier yet to appear, and won’t believe that I’m actually finished until the degrees are in my warm, sweaty hands.