Think about this. Graduating High School, your 21st birthday, graduating college, getting married, having children, etc. All of these huge moments in life are ones that we consider to be monumental and even life changing.

Somehow, we don’t feel all that different when this moment occurs yet we know our whole life has changed. Look at it this way, it’s not this moment in it’s entirety that has changed you, it was the process and hard work that led you to this moment.

High School

When someone hands you a high school diploma, there isn’t a shock wave of knowledge and certainty that consumes your body. No, in reality, someone just handed you a piece of paper that confirms you have worked your butt off the past four years. It is a beautiful day because you are recognized for the process it took to get your diploma, but I think we can all recall that it feels weird to be done because nothing really feels different. Sure, you toss your caps and celebrate but nothing really feels as if you have changed.

Well, you haven’t. Not right at that moment. But in those four years of clubs and academics? My Lord, you would barely recognize the same person. That’s what changed you.

21st Birthday

Your 21st birthday is supposed to be this magical day where you are no longer consuming alcohol illegally and can celebrate your responsibility with the substance. Truth is, you really didn’t change from the person you were at 11:59 pm and you probably didn’t change that much from the person you were a week ago. This can really go for any birthday.

Yet, we have to wait until this magical moment because that symbolizes our readiness (even if we weren’t considered “ready” 1 minute ago) to go forth on onward. It’s not the clock striking 12 that makes you ready to consume alcohol, it’s the experiences you have had leading up to midnight that America really thinks you need before you can drink. You don’t feel different on your birthday, because you’ve had a whole year of change leading up to another wise year added on to your age.

College Graduation

If you go to college and graduate, it’s almost the same scenario with High School. If you go through all of the requirements needed to graduate and never get handed a piece of paper, you would still know all of the material you do and be able to perform just as well. Somehow, this piece of paper and confirmation of your knowledge is to assure everyone else that we know what we’re talking about.

That moment we graduate from college doesn’t change us, the blood, sweat and tears we put into that degree changed us. The paper just confirms it. Of course it’s a great day to celebrate but that’s all it is. You’re celebrating the change that has already happened because when you are handed that degree, a wave of knowledge will not sink into your skin. You already have it, they are just recognizing it.

Getting Married

You meet someone, fall in love and want to tie the knot. You have a ceremony to celebrate two people coming together as one and can even change your last name. However, when you kiss the bride, there is no magical commitment enchantment that falls over you and your loved one. You decided that a long time ago.

The exact moment of signing a marriage license doesn’t make two people commit to each other, it confirms the commitment already made when you are asked to be married. Marriage is saying that you love the commitment you have made to each other and want to spend the rest of your life eating coffee ice cream and laughing every day.

There is not a force field of love that engulfs you when you put that ring on his or her finger, that love is already there. You are just confirming it. That huge moment does not change you, it reinforces what you already know and have with each other.

Having Children

I have had two really close friends of mine become pregnant and I had to ask what it was like. They both told me, it was completely surreal until you saw yourself getting bigger and felt the baby start to move around. It was crazy for them to think of themselves as mothers until they had their child in their arms.

This one is tricky. Of course finding out your pregnant is a huge moment that will change your life. However, if you’ve been sexually active, you’ve technically been preparing for this moment to happen (even with birth control) because that’s what animals do. Reproduce. The process up to the baby’s birth will lead to another huge moment when your baby is now in this world outside of your tummy. The moment you can see your child is a huge life changing sequence that changes you in that moment.

But when my cousin first held her son in her arms, she said she didn’t know how to be a mom. What changed her was the process of it. Taking her baby home and starting to care for him, that’s what made her become a mother. Of course, as soon as she was pregnant she was the child’s mom but she learned how through the process. I thought that those words were so beautiful. It’s in the process more than a specific, entire moment. So from my understanding, it’s both the huge moment and the process.

Other

For those who like to contradict, I am sure you can think of incidents where a huge moment can change your life. I am in agreement. Death, accidents, etc. Those are all painful and huge moments that really can affect  you right then and there. But even with those moments, it’s not the instant someone dies that changes you, it’s the start button it presses for the process of change. The process of learning to live without someone. Learning to live with grief.

All in all, my point here is that the journey is more important then the destination. Take time to enjoy the process because you will spend most of your life in that phase rather than the celebration stage.

Value your processes more and you will be able to celebrate even harder at your next victory. After all, the celebration is far shorter than the time it takes for you to get there.