In 1553, on his deathbed, Francois Rabelais, a Renaissance man, muttered his final seven words: "I go to seek a great perhaps." But, today, this 'great perhaps' is where we begin.
Teachers, mentors, family and friends, when we took our first steps on this adventure, four years ago, I remember walking into my dorm room, in Maria's Tower, and thinking I knew who I was. The person standing before you today feels very differently. Closer to who I will be, there is so much I wish I could share with the girl who was too eager-to-please, too directionally challenged, and too sure one wrong move would take down all the dominoes.
Instead, I will share these lessons with you:
Today, a product of this concrete jungle, of becoming a twenty-something, of spending more money on the MTA than food, I’ve started to understand why the places we go are all somehow temporary. My time at Pace has taught me the value of a moment, of a memory, of making mistakes. But also that it’s okay to say goodbye.
I shed a lot of ideas of who I was and added a few new layers to the person I’m becoming, over years of being championed for things least expected and coming to terms with the windiest paths.
This is not always a friendly city and not necessarily a place that can tackle a person’s forever, either, but for the time that we have been here, and for the time we choose to stay, this metropolis is full of perhapses.
Full of people. And opportunities. And we all too quickly miss them. I can’t stand before you and tell you about living in the moment because I’m not sure I know the first thing about mindfulness but do I know that, when it’s gone, all that nostalgia must mean our pasts were pretty wonderful. I would rather experience it firsthand. So I hope, if you forget names and faces and the reason why you sang the Spice Girls at orientation, you remember this one. Here, today, adorned with caps and gowns, there are the obvious feelings: closure, regret, relief, and, ideally, hope. Overwhelmed by all that’s unknown, know we are all given an equal share of this perhaps.
If the last four years have taught me anything, the life that we planned for ourselves doesn’t necessarily come to pass. These are all parts of the ‘perhaps.’ Situated between the things that we want, the things that we need, and the things that we wish for, we are playing a game sans certainty. The world isn’t our oyster but a great, vast, perhaps.
So, to that girl who was too eager-to-please, too directionally challenged, and too sure one wrong move would take down all the dominoes: Remember the importance of being your own advocate because, when it all comes down to it, you will need people like you on your side. Downtown is a labyrinth and it could take you a million 2AM attempts to find your way home but one day it will all click: You know you’re where you are supposed to be when you can look up and find your Polaris. Always walk towards it, until you’re ready to walk away. And, remember: the further uptown you go, there is a numerical system. You’re graduating from college, you can handle the numbers. And, maybe dominoes isn’t your strong suit but they won’t fall too easy. And, if they do, chances are you hadn’t set them up properly, anyway. Everything will work out, in the end. Only you can limit your perhaps.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.