An Attitude of Gratitude: On Endings & Beginnings

It’s a bittersweet feeling, approaching the end of a chapter. With one week of classes left, the end of the semester is in sight. For some, myself included, the end of this semester marks the end of an undergraduate degree – a four, five, six-year journey each of us has gone on, facing our own challenges along the way. As this inevitable milestone draws closer, I find myself reminiscing about the past four years.

Without a doubt the memories that I’ve made and the experiences that I’ve had have shaped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve been pushed in my academics, encouraged to think differently and challenge my own pre-conceived world views. I’ve also met some of the best people and made friends for life (all while living through a global pandemic!). A part of me isn’t ready to let that go.

Despite the inevitable sadness, nostalgia and the definite anxieties surrounding “what next,” I find myself overcome with a feeling of gratitude. When the pandemic first began, I felt a sense of hopelessness, mourning for the university experience I had lost. And while there has definitely been loss, I find myself thankful all the same.

John Milton says that “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world” and this quote truly sums up my feelings in this present moment. Four years seems to have flown by and if someone was to ask me what my favorite memory out of all of it was, I’m not sure I would know where to start. It truly is in the little things, the late nights at the library, grabbing lunch from the food trucks on St. George after class, sitting in the quad on a sunny day and watching the squirrels or chatting with someone new in class.

The true beauty of these four years is in these everyday epiphanies, these ephemeral moments that seem like nothing but at the end of the day mean everything. I’m so grateful to have had these memories and experiences, despite the ups and downs and the changes to a ‘traditional’ university experience, and so grateful to have something that makes it hard to say goodbye (Winnie the Pooh is the genius behind this statement). The importance of this attitude of gratitude that I’ve recognized, reflecting on the past four years, is something that I will carry with me forever, trying to live mindfully in each present moment, cherishing them all.

The only constant in life is change, something the class of 2022 knows all too well. And it’s not always easy, in fact it is often painful and forces you to grow in ways you couldn’t even imagine. But there is so much beauty in the small moments, in the little things. And, when you look back, those little things are really the ones that count, the ones that become the most important of all. It’s a bittersweet feeling, approaching the end of a chapter, but the end is truly only the beginning of another adventure that brings with it more moments to cherish. To all my fellow graduates, I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck. Congratulations, we did it!

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