I felt a little ridiculous for tearing up at this graduation. After all, I’d only just met these folks who were graduating. I haven’t gotten a chance to work with them in workshops or to watch the progression of their writing, but as I listened to Jan Bottiglieri deliver the student address, and to Marvin Bell sending them off with words of hope and wisdom, my heart swelled with pride.
I know, I’m a sap. While I’m sure that part of what moved me was pride in the accomplishments of the graduates, I know that part of it, too, was pride in myself. Though I haven’t yet put in nearly as much work as the graduates have, I’m proud of myself for even beginning the process, and the glimpse of where I’ll stand in two years gave me chills. Wow, if I’m tearing up now, I’m going to be a wreck by the time I get to my own graduation.
Here’s why I’m so proud of myself and my fellow brave first semester souls – we’re saying yes, diving on after plunging head-first into something unfamiliar. Some of us had never been through a workshop before holding up our work for critique. Some of us, hardly used to coming across anyone but family and friends on a daily basis, suddenly found enthusiastic smiles and warm introductions in every direction.
By the end we’d understand the attention. At the beginning of the residency, I was excited, but I didn’t yet know how eager a returning student would be to come back to this community of passionate, hard-working writers. They were thrilled to welcome me to their world, in on the secret of all that I was in for. By the end, I also understood the frequent check-ins – at some point, each first semester student would realize just how much work this program would be, possibly around the same time each of us realize we’re relying on far more caffeine than we’re used to, and our own enthusiastic smiles might disappear.
It’s true, I was worn out by the time I watched the graduates celebrate their degrees. But I’m looking forward, happy to take on the challenges ahead, glad to know they're only just beginning.