So, that’s how it goes. The big day has come and gone. I teased it, waited to see exactly how it would play out and talked about the excitement and fears that would come with the aftermath. All the anticipation and time spent waiting made the whole thing feel a lot bigger as the days went by. I went from claiming it wasn’t actually such a big deal whilst playing it cool, to losing my mind trying to control every single stupid little detail.
I bought a dress that left a dent in my bank account, as well as more jewellery than I actually needed just to be sure it would all fit right.
You see, there’s no middle ground with me; there’s no grey area between ‘I don’t care’, and ‘I care too much’, and that’s something I clearly need to fix. At first, I acted like it was no big deal; like it wasn’t something I needed to go all out for or celebrate in grand style. I told myself I was an adult now and I didn’t need the ‘cheesy’ excitement. I carried that attitude for the most part of the time leading up the big day before the control freak in me awoke and wanted to make it all a big deal. I guess she came out to play because deep down, she knew it was a big deal. It was a pretty damn big deal.
I knew exactly how big of a deal it was by the way my heart said it right before I was about to roll up on stage to hear my name be called in front of hundreds of people most of whom I had never encountered in my life. I could hear my heartbeat out of my ear and there was no way I could control it.
I’ve been through so many back doors in my lifetime, but this was the first one that felt so daunting, thrilling, exciting and completely mad all at the same time. Usually, I don’t get excited when I go through back doors as they’re usually sketchy looking and involve passing through dumpsters or storage rooms to get into a store or restaurant which hasn’t yet come around to the idea of accessibility in this day and age.
This time was different though, it was no ordinary back door and luckily there were no dumpsters and bags of trash in sight. It was a double door that led to another one and then another one again. The guy that led me backstage pressed the buttons on the door to grant us access to the stage, but I don’t recall which ones he pressed as my mind was completely blank and blurry and my heart was doing what it does best when I’m in usual situations; pound, pound, pound.
‘I hope my cap doesn’t fall off my head as I go shake that guy’s hand’, ‘I hope he says my full-on African name right’, ‘I hope I don’t do that awkward thing I usually do with my face’, ‘How much longer now?’
Time went by way faster than I expected, and all of a sudden, my name had been unexpectedly said right, I somehow ditched the awkward look on my face, shook the chancellor’s hand and headed to the other side of the stage as I was supposed to. That was it.
All the noise in my mind slowly shut off leaving me, myself and I alone to soak it all in and reminisce about all the events that brought me to that moment. How did this girl from an unremarkable small town near Milan, find herself in Manchester city being awarded a first-class degree in Multimedia Journalism? A super quick flashback took me back to the first plane ride and then to the first day on campus. In my mind, I could scroll down to the high panics that came with deadlines and exams, the never-ending hours spent in lecture theatres and seminar rooms. The best parts were probably the moment spent aimlessly chatting about life and disagreeing over little and big things around a small table in the cafeteria with people I never imagined I’d meet let alone get along with.
It wasn’t all perfectly rosy, and the grass wasn’t always green. It wasn’t always fun, in fact, most days, fun would have been the last word I’d have ever used to describe those days. Sometimes, going to a morning lecture was the last thing I wanted to do and some days I’d choose my bed over that two-hour lesson on freedom of speech I shouldn’t have missed. Some days were great, others weren’t and the only reasonable choice to make was getting on with it and just dealing.
What can I say? I guess there’s always something beautiful even in broken things. I guess some awful times also played their part in bringing me to my full circle moment up on the stage.
In this period, one thing I’ve had to come to terms with is this: everything comes to an end. My mum always says; ‘Everything that has a beginning must have an ending’.
This is it, the ending of a chapter I opened unaware and maybe somewhat unprepared. I watched myself drown in self-doubt some night and then I watched as I found confidence again. I watched many fall behind, disappear or decide to change the course of their journey halfway. I’ve learnt so much and now all I can do is take all that to the next chapter I’ll open unaware, but hopefully, a little more prepared than the last, if that’s even possible, whatever that may be.
The future is bright they say, but sometimes so much light can also be blinding. Hopefully, I remember to step on the breaks sometimes before choosing what road to take next while I’m headed full speed towards the sun.
Your restless romantic roamer