Just think - this time next week you'll be a college graduate.
All week I've been saying that I still don't know how I feel about
being a college graduate, but I do now.
I feel like my stomach is in my throat,
and my mind is a juxtaposition between nostalgia and regret --
for having rushed through these four years whenever given the chance.
This moment in life also feels like a quiet sigh and the clasp of hands rested upon one's lap.
Not defeat. Not relief. Not complacency.
It's the knowledge that to sit within a moment that feels so much like
sprinting is the best possible stance that I can take at this hour.
I think back on who I was four years ago --
I try and remember what that version of me wondered of this current version of myself.
She hoped that I would be happy -- this is I remember --
That I would be on the cusp of success -- whatever that might mean.
And am I happy?
In a way I didn't know existed four years ago.
Happiness is a funny thing for me.
I struggle with it, mostly because I struggle so much with maintaining peace in my life.
I've learned that happiness is most authentic in the face of heaviness and doubt; complacency
and fear; rejection and loss.
Happiness is scraping one's self off of the floor, mopping up the vomit or the blood,
and continuing on with the white stained shirt.
It's the crawl when walking is ideal but seemingly impossible --
when knees are kicked in and palms are raw, but you crawl
anyway because God knows we're all meant to walk again after a fall.
Happiness is that smile at a stranger who might feel as unseen as you do on a day
when "no" is a reoccurring theme.
Happiness isn't the pleasure of proving someone wrong --
it's the whisper of confidence in doing good work that might go unnoticed.
Happiness is two words put together.
Or even one hundred and twenty pages of absolute shit that make you feel like an Academy Award winner anyway.
It's waking in a city that finally feels like a home.
It's knowing that I pulled myself out of a hole,
and refused to settle every fucking time.
Happiness is a healthy does of selfishness,
and the coated feel of humility after the pride is swallowed.
It doesn't always have to be so complex -- so deep, though.
Sometimes happiness is the way newly-born daylight stretches itself through a window.
It's the dense layer of smog hugging the LA skyline.
It's the way I sometimes have to double-take because the Hollywood
Hills are so stunning, and at times they look so much like Berkeley's hills.
Happiness is coming to a finish line;
it's knowing that you are worth more than you can comprehend in a single second;
it's freshly brewed coffee before the sun is even up;
it's the rigidity of good posture;
the give and take;
the gained wisdom of knowing the difference between purpose and passion, and the ability to move forward with what that might tell you;
and the slow crawl into bed after a day of laughter.
I'm going to continue to hope for happiness.
Los Angeles is meant to break, but for now it has caused
me to build and I'm running with that for the longest possible duration.
I'm usually so fearful of happiness.
I oftentimes confuse happiness with expectation.
It turns into this thing that I either feel will let me down because expectation is associated with it,
or something I grow to feel entitled to.
But happiness knows no bounds -- therefore it cannot be diminished to a box or a label or a moment.
It's frightening because it's fleeting, sure.
However -- just because it might come in flashes amongst the trials,
its livelihood cannot at all be denied.
And so I will learn to hope for it well, even when I'm afraid that
It can't get any better than this will somehow bring misfortune.
As if luck was a real thing.
I'm going to hope for more happiness.
More happiness in the form of friendships;
in a job that--even if I cry every day--will continue to contribute to my growth, as well as make me into a better human being.
More happiness in the form of self expression.
To let my writing be the thing that God gave me rather than the thing I can package up and sell to man.
More happiness in the mundane.
Not for accolades or money,
but for contentment, and for the craving of more, better, wiser.
Twenty-four hours from now I will be packing my car up and leaving this place.
This place of disillusionment and accepted insanity (as writers have so creatively described to me),
and I will take with me the happiness it has so unexpectedly and undeservedly given me.
And I will hide this away in my heart,
and I will let it grow me.
I will hold it so close until the time comes for me to come back.
And even if things are drastically different in August;
even if I come back and Los Angeles is a stranger again,
I will remember who it was to me in this season.
I will remember what God let it give me.
I will remember how hard I worked,
and how hard I desire to work.
For more happiness.
For more words.
And I will smile at it,
and call it home again,
and I will foolishly fight for what I believe to be more of a purpose than just a passion.
A purpose to write,
not to change lives or win awards or earn money.
But a purpose to simply tell stories.
Whatever I do to make money will take care of itself with enough effort on my part.
So, college career,
you taught me to read great literature so that I could know a good story when I saw/heard one.
You taught me to think critically so that as a writer I could string ideas together.
You pushed me creatively and accepted me when I chose to look at something from an upside down perspective.
You taught me to argue.
You taught me to say no.
You taught me to be different.
I can't remember the names of most my classes,
and I can't talk grammar terms or math equations or biology definitions with you.
But I can work hard,
and know what I want,
and appreciate words,
and listen when the time requires no speaking on my part,
and I can write.
I can most certainly write.
And yesterday, when meeting with a professional reader in the industry, he explained to me the importance of owning this, even if only this.
So -- all of these loans and years later,
and I know how to write.
And after four months here, I know how to fight for that writing.
The journey has been long and trying to get to this one spot,
but every piece was essential.
And my initial plan had nothing on what was ahead four years ago.