The last week of July 2015 marked graduation of the students of the University of Rwanda. An end to late nights when 3 a.m. is as early as 8 p.m., impossible assignments, deadly deadlines, and the CATs we were never fully prepared for. Making it out of this status quo calls for celebration that we like to call graduation.

There were days when all of it seemed far from our reach; unachievable. But knowing that there are other people involved at their own levels – colleagues, professors, lecturers, campus helps, security guards that let us in without our IDs, the school kitchen cooks that memorized all our names, usually from the chaos we caused – were rooting for us to achieve whatever brought us here, by doing their individual responsibilities, which collectively assured and encouraged us that, somehow in some way, we were going to make it. To them, we are forever grateful.

Leaving behind all these bonds formed and mended over the past four years is not an easy concept to grasp. While we were at it, it never occurred to us that the end would be a little harsher and more absolute than we cared to think about. Leaving a community that helped us form new habits and letting others go – a kind of growth we would have never realised on our own – is almost heartbreaking. We say goodbye to a place we fully belonged.

The question on the table after this dreadful revelation is: What’s next for me now? Excluding those who become instantly successful, we look at the job market and, along with the terror of competition, we start asking ourselves if what we chose to do was right for us. We start doubting our abilities, thinking that we should have probably taken another route. The accumulation of these thoughts becomes unsettling. But this kind of thinking is no good, it is only very limiting.

The only way out of it though – to tackle this mixture of self-doubt and regret – is to look at ourselves not just as engineering or arts graduates but beings that possess potential. People with the ability to go completely off board, and try something completely new, face new challenges by being open to learning; knowing it’s an ongoing process and holding on to the sense of wonder.

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