Social media is something else. When I graduated from high school ten years ago, you were balling if your cell phone had a camera. More than likely you didn’t. Your memories were mostly 4×6 glossy photos in which the best one or two you put in your scanner and you asked your friends who knew coding to post them on your Black Planet page. All this weekend, my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram timelines were full of pictures and quotes of Morehouse and Spelman five year anniversary reunion recollections and pictures (not to mention the live stream of President Obama speaking at my alma mater).
This was very comforting to me. I finished college in the fall of 2007. I walked in the spring of 2008 because I wanted my pomp and circumstance on the hill that has become hallowed ground because it was the civil war site in which the orders to burn down the city of Atlanta were given and a major change in the north’s strategy unfolded. Other than that, I could have cared less. I fell asleep, missed the keynote speaker and all. The best part of that morning was while I was marching was looking into the crowd and seeing Timile standing about fifty feet away up against a tree. We locked eyes and she looked very proud. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget because in those two seconds we said paragraphs to each other.
More than anything, I was happy to see all of Spelman’s five year reunion pictures. It was Timile’s graduation day five years ago and I was happy for her. In the midst of severe depression, an abusive relationship, me writing papers for her and so much more: we made it. She was set with a copywriting internship at BBDO Atlanta and was on her way. When her name was called I yelled from the top of the cathedral where graduation took place not caring that a lot of people turned around and looked at me. As I drove back home by myself, I reflected on college and where Timile and I would go next.
Five years later she’s no longer here but she is in spirit. I kept Cydney in Spelman shirts all weekend to do my part since we could not make it. The pictures made it feel like she was. One picture taken at Spelman’s convocation was when a dance was done for the alumae who had transitioned. One of Timile’s classmates took the picture, uploaded it into Instagram, tagged her name in it. I appreciated that a lot. The girls had no idea who they may have been dancing in honor of, but their ministry meant something and me 850 something miles away felt it.
To the new graduates and alumni who are still young, you really have no idea what life has in store for you. Life since that day for me has been one large hustle full of good and hard times that have made me grow up faster than even the above average person in their late twenties. However, you’re blessed as am I.
The most important lesson I learned in college was the difference between perseverance and resilience. Perseverance is the act of enduring adversity. It is while going through seasons of struggle, staying the course, and seeing things through. Resilience is changing your fate in the midst of hard times. While both are actions, the latter is the substance of the difference makers. Both are equally necessary, but learning how to be resilient comes from building stamina by persevering. Its the most valuable tool you learn in college. As a black man, that is what I think Morehouse’s mission is all about building. The same goes for Spelman, and just about any other college, ours is just a little different in how you’re worked harder than anyone else in which half don’t make it. Those that do come out knowing how to make your own fate in the midst of whatever curveballs, sinkers, and sliders life has thrown your way. If there is anything to learn from Timile and my story it is that.