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Endings and Beginnings

May 13, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday I had the honor of picking up my daughter at the end of her freshman year of college. Perhaps because the day was so long – it began at 3:15 a.m. on less than four hours sleep, and ended at 1:00 a.m. this morning – I am a bit more prone to emotion, but it got me thinking.

Her year was in New York, her first away from home. She worked hard to make the best of it even though there were many challenges. While engaged deeply in her academics, I think she would say that where she gained the most value was from her outside activities. She took the initiative to become involved as a leader in her student government and in three other volunteer projects. One of those was with the Global Poverty Project, whose commitment is to eradicate extreme poverty. She worked with this international organization first as an intern and then as a fellow, enhancing their mission as she evolved in her own commitment to human rights.

Yesterday was the completion of all these activities. Her last final exam over, we went to a celebration for one of her volunteer projects, in which college students were coupled with high school seniors to help them improve their writing skills. The ceremony was a beautiful culmination and acknowledgment of the work that the high school students and their college mentors accomplished together. The rest of the day was filled with the stuff of endings: packing suitcases and boxes for shipping, cleaning and vacuuming, and meeting many people I had heard about while my daughter said her goodbyes.

For some, the end of the first year of college is an obvious segue to the next year, but for others, like Sarah, it is a completion, because she has decided not to return. She nervously awaits responses from the schools she has applied to as a transfer student. This highlights the completion of her year more fully, as we talked about what she learned since she left home last fall and how it had helped her evolve her vision moving forward. It was both sad and happy, acknowledging accomplishments and friendships, lessons learned and people she will miss.

So this morning I am thinking about endings and beginnings. Sometimes our endings are blissful and glorious, other times sad, angry or unfulfilling. Usually though, they are filled with emotion, perhaps even with conflicting emotions. Regardless, once the ending occurs, the constructive choice is to turn and move toward the future. Processing our experiences – acknowledging our successes and growth and looking at what we can learn from our missteps – can give us the perspective we need to be complete and to make wise decisions about our next actions. While it may not take away the sadness or loss, taking time to recognize what we have accomplished, including our strong and weak moments, gives us fuel toward creating a powerful tomorrow.

May your endings be a wonderful predecessor to your new, more vibrant beginnings.

Robin Damsky

Our book, Find Fulfill Flourish, was named a Finalist in the Self Help category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times calls it “an inspirational tour de force” Click here to purchase it. Click here for an overview and here for a free sample chapter. Book readers also receive FREE access to all premium exercises and content on our website.

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