Alumni. I never thought I wouldn’t like that word, but when the speaker at graduation started throwing that word around my eyes filled with tears.

Thoughts like “I’m not ready to go.’ ‘I don’t want to leave this wonderful place that has become my home.’ ‘I want a little more time with my friends here” entered my head, and I wasn’t ready to face what came next. It’s unfamiliar, and I’m afraid. But fear is often one of our greatest teachers; it can lead us to good things.

Yesterday, as I was packing up my room, I pulled something out of my desk and an envelope fell onto my floor. I picked it up curiously and turned it over to see the words “Do Not Open Until Graduation 2014” on the front. I laughed and remembered my roommate’s words from August, “wouldn’t it be cool to write ourselves letters now that we will open on Graduation?” I remember hiding the letter away in my desk thinking, “I’ll not find this until I move out which will be after graduation!” It worked!

As I opened it, and saw the date of August 25th, 2013, I realized how much I needed that letter. Reading the words I wrote to myself nine months ago, to hear how past-Genevieve was hesitant to start her Field Placement and the last of her classes that next day, I realize how much I’ve changed, and yet, how I’m still that hesitant girl who is anxiously trying to figure out what to do now that I’m an alumna.

Looking back on the wisdom that I shared, the hopes and wishes I had for myself about what this year might look like, and the encouragement I gave myself, I realize how magical it is to get a glimpse of yourself from the past.

Although it’s very hard for me to take a compliment from anyone, including myself, and if you know me, you know that’s something I’m working on, to hear past-Genevieve praise new graduate-Genevieve for “surviving four grueling years of college” was exactly what I needed.

Now, after graduation, when most of my friends have left the city and it feels as though the floor has dropped out from under me and I have to try to figure out what comes next, it’s nice to know that I’ve still got faith in myself. But it’s also nice to know that despite my hesitance at the beginning of the year, I made it through all of that challenges I faced.

This letter gave me the strength to face all of the challenges that are waiting for me in the coming months, and the hope that I will travel with grace.

A parting thought from past-Genevieve reads, “Do not be afraid to follow your heart, it will lead you to good places and good heart-breaking, soul-sustaining work. For everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”

Congratulations Class of 2014! Here we go! Life awaits us!

GHagerGenevieve Hager is a new graduate who will be doing research for the summer and will be studying in Sweden in the fall as a Brueggeman Fellow.  She is looking forward to all of the challenges and hardships that await her!