Today is my daughter’s high school graduation. Class of 2016. Seems surreal that she is already graduating. It seems like just yesterday that she was born and I was struck with the randomness of naming this newborn baby any old name, wondering who this person was that I was given the amazing and somewhat scary responsibility of raising. It’s been an amazing journey thus far, walking the path with her, learning from her, watching her blossom and grow into this independent, resilient, responsible, kind, generous, determined young lady who is now ready to set out on her own and continue more independently to discover and walk her unique path.
I still remember my high school graduation just like it was yesterday. It was 1987. I was the high school valedictorian. I was surrounded by friends and family. I had decided to go to McGill University in Montreal, partly because I fell in love with Montreal, and partly because they offered the highest scholarship and had the lowest tuition fees which allowed me to put myself through school by working at the mine during the summers. I had, with all the audacity of youth, decided to become a lawyer so that I could help people who weren’t able to go to law school navigate the legal system. Our graduating class of something like 20 kids had decided on a theme song for our graduation: Nothing Can Stand in Our Way. And that summed up how I felt: I felt I was on top of the world. Nothing was going to stop me. I was certain that I would find a way to make it work. I would do whatever it took to realize my dreams. There was not a doubt in my mind.
Seven years later, with a Bachelor of Commerce under my belt also, I graduated from McGill with an LL.B, a law degree. I had accomplished the first part of my goal. The next step was to excel at practicing law (something law school actually doesn’t teach). And so, I put my head down and started honing the skills I needed. And then I started adding to my dream. I got married, I had 3 wonderful children, I supported my husband who was unhappy in his job by moving, twice, once to the west coast of Canada and then the second time to the United States. I had always been confident that I could rely on myself, that no matter where we went, I would be able to take care of myself and practice law. However, life humbled me. When we moved to the States, I found I couldn’t take the bar exam as I had not graduated from an American law school. And I realize now, in retrospect that I had inadvertently wrapped up my identity and my value with having a law degree and being a professional woman that could help others. Not valuing myself was also a huge factor in the breakdown of my marriage, but that is for another post.
I love honoring the cycle of life because it DOES, with good regularity, remind us of who we have been, of emotional states that we have experienced, of the successes we’ve have, the hardships we’ve endured. Watching my daughter graduate, make decisions about what to do next year, study and work hard to attain the grades she wants to get, it reminds me of this state of certainty that I had, that I WOULD attain any goal I set for myself. Because the mind works in wonderful ways and cannot differentiate between past and present, remembering that state of certainty puts me immediately back into that state of certainty. I can choose to bathe myself in the memory and anchor that into my body so that I feel that state more and more often in my life.
I share this because when we go through trying times whether that is divorce, hard times within a relationship, moving to a new country, changing careers, we often feel lost, alone, empty, and extremely uncertain about what the future is going to hold for us. I want you to know that one way to gain more certainty, is to think back to a time when you had just successfully finished something. Take at least 5 minutes and really feel how you felt when you accomplished this goal. Feel what you were feeling. Remember what you were saying to yourself, how you walked, how you talked. Really feel it. Journal about it. Do you have a picture to commemorate that event? Perhaps you can take it out and look at it.
Whenever you feel unsure, reach for this memory. The state of certainty, of being on top of the world, being UNSTOPPABLE, is worth taking 5-10 minutes every day to anchor into your body. You’ve got this!