My Last quarter.

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Yesterday I talked about graduation. I explained feelings of joy and excitement and what a proud accomplishment it will be when I walk across that stage in front of my family.

But I’d be lying if I told you that happiness is all I’d feel.

FEAR:

Uncertainty scares me. Sure, I’ll have a piece of paper that says I’m qualified to do some things, but that doesn’t mean ill do them.

Now I’m not saying I don’t think I’ll be okay, but I just don’t know what’s next and that’s a little scary.

It doesn’t help that most students stare at me wide-eyed and in awe when i say “I don’t know what’s next,” but i try to act cool and collective like I know what I’m doing.

Truth is, I don’t

What I do know is that I’m going home to a family and community who is depending on me.

To be a leader. To influence change. To serve.

And that’s scary too.

UNDESERVING:

I don’t need anyone to tell me that I deserve it. I know I do, but sometimes I feel like I don’t.

I can’t quite explain it.

From the beginning, when I got to college and realized how different I was as a student of color, different class and different culture I immediately felt as if i didn’t belong.

Do I still feel that way? Not completely.

But for some reason I feel as if graduation still will not make me feel like i belong.

I hate that.

SAD:

I’m not gonna miss the homework.

I’m not gonna miss relaxing on a Saturday or Sunday night when that “oh sh**,” feeling hits you and you realize you have an assignment due in a couple hours.

But I will miss the people and the experiences college has offered me.

It’s not about the fun or the going out, but I’ve grown so much since freshman year.

I’m a completely different person, and leaving a place where I’ve done so much learning, growing and living will be hard.

I’ve worked through some of the hardest times of my life here. I’ve met people who have changed me and leaving that will be hard.

Doubt:

Lastly, sometimes I don’t believe in myself. Where I’m from, there aren’t many examples of people who have graduated college and can tell you what life is like post-education.

I have so many questions.

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I fail?

What if this is the wrong career path?

What if I can’t find a job?

So many feelings at once and I don’t know how to handle them.

I think experience will provide all the answers I need and there is really only one way to deal with it all.

Keep moving forward. I need to make sure that these feelings aren’t going to stop me from at least doing that.

 

 

Drowning in leis

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If there is one thing I appreciate about my Samoan culture, and most Polynesian cultures for that matter, it is the way we celebrate graduation.

To many graduation is important, to others it is a simple stepping stone in life, but to Samoans? It feels like the BIGGEST deal in the world.

Naw, for real.

Like you just won the Super Bowl on the game winning throw.

And saved someones life on the way to the end zone.

While the stadium was on fire.

You get the point. it’s pretty epic.

With that said, Summer is right around the corner and soon enough myself– and many other Polynesians around the world– will have a Facebook, Twitter and instagram feed full of outlandish amounts of leis on one poor Poly kids neck as he teeters around trying to take pictures with his hundred-something long line of relatives.

When i say “outlandish,” i mean exactly that. Your lucky if these intricate homemade leis filled with money, candy (sometimes food) and many other gifts allow you to see through the crevices of their plastic, let alone breathe.

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Me (left) and my brothers Jordan (right) and Christian (middle) celebrating Christians graduation from Western Washington University.

This past summer was perhaps the craziest.

I saw blown up cut-outs of kids faces, large 10 x 10 ft. quilts with their students names stitched into its fabric, and my personal favorite:

Humongous crowns made of money.

It was like every family was competing for who gave their child the best celebration, gifts and love.

At first i thought it was funny and sometimes over the top, but then i thought, why? why do we do this? is it really that important?

The answer now that my college graduation is months away is conveniently, YES! haha

Seriously though, why not? Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t need any of that stuff because we know we are loved, but I love that my culture allows us to celebrate their kids successes in the largest way possible.

I know that I’ve worked hard to get here and that college wasn’t easy. My parents didn’t go to college, so i had to figure a lot of this stuff out on my own and it’s okay to be proud.

I also love how much that support motivates me.

Senior-itis is real and being so close to done makes you want to take your foot off the gas right?

Naw.

Not with my support system. Not with the greeting party that will be waiting for me when i finally do it!

So Poly families, keep celebrating each other. It’s not about the parties, money or celebration. It’s about telling each other how proud we are.

It’s about acknowledging our gifts and celebrating our successes.

Because at the end of the day, your kids know that they’re drowning in so much more than just leis!