By Knight Stivender, Mt. Juliet (TN) High, Class of 95
I think the most important thing you can do upon graduation – of anything – is to master transitions.
The advice given to triathletes is to learn to do them seamlessly. Wear a wetsuit during the swim and shirk it on the run to your bike. Have your bike shoes already clipped into your pedals and slide your feet into them as you’re mounting your bicycle. Eat while you’re running. Most importantly: Know what the transition areas look like before the race begins. The point to all this is to save your energy for the parts of the event that matter most.
So you can beat everyone else.
There are other kinds of transitions, though.
One day, your steady will become your spouse. You may still have “date nights”, and you may still cuddle on the couch. What you’ll have in addition are bills with both your names on them, two sets of relatives who want you home for the holidays, decisions about careers and children, and a lifetime of more transitions to look forward to.
One day, you will quit a job and start a new one. You will be proficient and confident in the one you leave behind, scared and intimidated by the one ahead. If you are leaving under good conditions, you may feel guilt or remorse. If you are leaving under bad ones, you may feel hostility or regret. You need to know what you are getting into, and you’ll want to make sure you haven’t left a mess.
One day, you will become a grownup. You may have your own children, or you may help others raise theirs. The little ones will call you something like “Miss Knight” or “Mrs. Stivender” or “Lily’s Mom”. The teenagers will not think you are cool or interesting or hot. They will ask you for snacks and to take them places. They will expect you to make decisions and be in control of whatever is happening, whether it’s a bully that terrorizes the whole classroom or a 500-year flood that wipes out half the city.
One day you will watch someone die. Maybe it’s prolonged, maybe it’s relatively quick. At different moments it will feel like both. If the person who is dying is someone you love, you will struggle with the right way to say “goodbye”. Maybe you will be lucky and your loved one will find the words you can’t.
It may be a good idea to ponder transitions ahead of time, but you don’t want to race through these.
And you sure as hell don’t want to be alone for them.
Bio: I am Senior Editor, Digital & Niche Content for The Tennessean, where I’ve worked since graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1999. I live in Franklin with my daughter, who just “graduated” third grade and my husband, who just helped supervise his eighth high school graduation as a teacher at Fairview High School. I have a ton of hobbies, including running, cycling and the outdoors – which you can read about here: www.knightstivender.com.
Alright, you all know what’s coming next…although instead of gushing about this fabulous woman all over again, check out The Story We Share.
This lady is amazing. I think this picture pretty much sums it up. Look at that smile. I think a smile is the most disarming thing. It’s welcoming, makes you feel safe and shows a person can have fun and laugh. Knight is a woman who smiles through life. I’m not talking a rose colored glasses type of smile but a genuine outlook of no matter what life throws her way, what transition or challege awaits her, she smiles. I love that and admire that about her.
Every time I read Knight’s amazing blog, it’s funny how no matter whether it’s about running, gardening or family, it resonates with me. Check her blog Life in Full out. She is a beautiful, smart and witty writer…so are you on her blog yet 🙂 Also, I just want to mention that her and her team at the Tennessean did an AMAZING job keeping us all informed during the flood. I’m sure there were a lot of sleepless night for Knight during that. I know journalism can be a thankless job so Knight, in case you haven’t heard it in a while, THANK YOU!
About this series: This is one of a series of guest posts in May that will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.