Walking up the steps into Winchester Guild Hall, my tummy was tingling with butterflies. Carefully putting one foot in front of the other in my glittery, shiny new champagne-coloured heels, I anxiously looked around for someone to show me where to pick up my graduation robes.
This beautiful, large, wooden-floored room was familiar to me. I had once taken a four hour Jive lesson within these walls as part of a New Years Resolution that I actually did for the first time in my many twenty-one years on this earth. Despite the familiarity, my heart still pounded as I signed my name in and handed my form into the official graduation lady. She then pointed me in the direction of the official graduation robes bloke. (I love all of these official graduation people; they were so helpful throughout the morning and looked after my stressed-out self so much! Big love to them all!)
As my eyes followed the direction the lady was pointing me in, I saw a lovely, lovely sight. In amongst the crowds of people packed in within these walls, I spotted one of my very closest friends by the robes collection table. Letting out a little scream, I sprinted towards her. However, just as I got to her, the unfortunate lack of grip on my new shoes decided to make itself known, and just like the little diva I am, I completely slipped over. Yep. You heard that right. Two minutes into a space brimming with social interaction, I cause the whole room to gasp and then go absolutely silent. GOOD ONE, SARAH. My friend, being the legend that she is, caught me before my silly head whacked on the floor. I then yelled out in the silence, “I have arrived everybody!” and normality started to settle in again. I certainly made a memorable first impression on all of my friends’ families that day! Ha ha!
That day, Tuesday 14th October 2014, was a truly wonderful day for me. I was back in my zone; back with those I have laughed, cried and been completely ridiculous with for three years. My course mates mean an awful lot to me. In each lecture and seminar, it was my aim to make them laugh. I wanted to inject some positivity and brightness into the discussions about literature and criticism, even though I might not have felt at my happiest beneath the surface, I found so much joy in waking up, ready to run down to lectures and make my friends giggle.
My mission at university was to be around as much as possible despite the fact that I commuted on the train for 50 minutes each way for two years. Some people didn’t even realise that I commuted; I was so proud when I heard that. I aimed to befriend and speak to as many people as possible due to the fact that I didn’t have the benefit of accommodation at uni, like the majority of others did, so I worked my butt off to try and actually make some friends. And you know what? My course mates just are the most beautiful, creative, hilarious and original individuals I’ve ever met. I am so proud to call so many of them my really close friends. I love remembering the exact moment I met them and then seeing how far we’ve come since that original meeting. I’m SO happy that I awkwardly made a fool out of myself in those initial meetings with so many of them, as it meant that I could be my awkward, goony self with them from that moment on and they’d be pretty much used to me from then! 😉 The best bit about getting off the train in those years was knowing that I was about to walk into a room with so many people that I had met and adored so much. Also, living in Winchester for my final year also made these friendships stronger and helped me be around to make more new friends and I’m so grateful for that year away.
This is why graduation was so so special for me. I was reunited with such an incredible bunch of people; individuals who have inspired me, made me laugh and who have encouraged me so much.
I’ve always enjoyed the fact that my surname is pretty much at the end of the alphabet. Being a ‘White’ meant that I could mentally prepare for my name being called on the register. But, more importantly, it meant that I got to sit back, relax and watch my beautiful and handsome friends go up to the front of Winchester Cathedral and graduate like the geniuses that they are. I almost forgot that I would have to go up too! I was enjoying watching my friends strutting their stuff up the front too much!
From laughing too loudly in lectures to creating silly characters and writing silly poems in the start of my Creative Writing classes that I’d hope my lecturer wouldn’t ask me to read out, giving our lecturers funny ‘pet’ names that we’d hope they’d never find out about, singing Disney songs for many hours when we were supposed to be preparing for our huge presentations, procrastinating down by the university pond sipping smoothies, running around campus dressed in cat outfits, eating countless amounts of canteen baguettes, giving presentations about the Fantasy genre whilst playing Lord of the Rings music in the background and simply giving each other cuddles when we found work/life/relationships/friendships/essays/dissertations far too difficult. My best memories were with my English/Creative Writing lot; thinking about them brings watery tears to my glasses-covered eyes. When I’m old and grey, I’ll point to the laughter wrinkles around my eyes and tell my grandchildren about how I got them.
But, for now, I’ll hear those cheers that echoed round the walls of Winchester Cathedral when my name was called out. For those cheers mean the absolute world to me. Those cheers are the icing on the cake for the girl who once didn’t know what it was like to have true friends. Those cheers just mean so so much. Congratulations to my fellow graduates; we did it. We actually did it!