Dear Kelly,

I am about to graduate in May. The last four years have been exciting and successful. With the end in sight, I am beginning to lose steam and feel like I don’t have much left to give. Do you have any advice for finding the energy to cross the finish line victoriously?

First of all, congratulations on reaching this phenomenal goal in your life! You obviously have been extremely dedicated to making this journey successful. I and many others can completely empathize with the way you are feeling. Working as hard as you have, you see that you are almost finished, and you are beginning to look forward to life as an alumnus. The idea that research papers, essays, quizzes and finals will soon be a distant memory is something every student looks forward to.

You are almost there, but you’re not there yet. You’ve held a specific standard of how you were going to conduct yourself as a student, and now is not the time to let that go. In fact, you are in your final moments of one of the most important times of your life. The decisions you make in these last months of your college career have the ability to affect your outcome.

I definitely understand. I, too, am in the final weeks of my senior year. The graduation regalia has been purchased, and plans are being made for commencement. I’m already preparing myself for the next stage, but in the meantime, I am worn out. I feel like I have run a full marathon, complete with twists and turns. I have run this race well, but this last mile — whew! I’m beginning to realize just how hard I have run, how much energy I have exerted, and my body is wanting to shut down.

Continuing to use the marathon analogy, this is known as “hitting the wall.” In the final stretch of a marathon, runners often find themselves struggling to make it to the finish — their legs are tired, their body is starting to shut down and they have to exert more energy to keep going. Although the finish line is near, they have to dig deeper and work harder than they have before just to reach it. It is during this time that they rely on different strategies to get them to the end.

As students, we need to do the same thing. Now is not the time to slow down or lower the standards we have set for ourselves for the past four years. Instead, it is the time to dig deep and find ways to, as this reader puts it, “finish victoriously.”

There are several things that you can do to help you cross that finish line with the same vigor and commitment you have produced over the past four years. The only thing is, it may take more energy, focus and determination than what you had to exert in the past.

Envision who you want to be walking across that stage. Are you simply accepting a degree and saying to yourself, “I made it,” or are you proudly striding across the stage, back straight, shoulders back, head held high, saying, “I DID IT!”

Think for a moment about you, as a Mercer University graduate, in your cap and gown, “Pomp and Circumstance” playing over the sound system, and the indisputable knowledge you possess that you set a goal for yourself, labored and fought to achieve it. No one gave it to you; you earned it. While it wasn’t always easy, you found the determination, tenacity and pure grit to earn this achievement. By visualizing that moment in time, you will begin to build the mindset you need to make it through this final stretch.

Take some time to reminisce on the journey that brought you to this moment. During this adventure, how many challenges have you faced and overcome?

For myself, simply enrolling in college was a huge hurdle, as I was absolutely terrified at the thought I wouldn’t succeed. I found a way to conquer that fear and discover the courage I needed to begin this voyage into my future. I put my all, everything that I could muster, into making this journey what I wanted it to be. I didn’t want to just graduate from college, I wanted to be a distinguished college graduate with honors, and I will be!

So, even though I am tired and feel like I have nothing left to give, the truth is I don’t want my last few weeks to look any different than the rest of the adventure. Quite the contrary, actually. I want to finish with all of the upward mobility I have applied throughout this entire journey.

You have just a few weeks left to go, and while you may feel like you are running out of steam, now is the time to catch that second wind, dig deep and give it all you’ve got. There will be a time when you will be able to sit back, relax and catch your breath, but my advice is to let that moment be when you have a degree on your wall and a lifetime of future success ahead of you.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: You’ve got this! You can do it! You have what it takes, and in less than two months, we will walk that stage together, completely and undeniably VICTORIOUS!

As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey and all your future endeavors!

Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at kelly.l.browning@live.mercer.edu or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

 

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Kelly Browning is pursuing a Master of Education in higher education leadership and is student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center.