Have you ever heard the song “The Middle,” by Jimmy Eats World? Wait, hold on- let me back up for a minute. Hello, my name is Sarah Sedaghatzadeh, and I am a millennial. Why does that matter, you might ask? Because this song is from 2001, and it’s the only thing that got me through the last two years of my time here at SMU.
“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet”
A song that was probably written as encouragement for teenage girls in the early 2000s, had different meaning for me and, ironically, powered me to finish my degree strong. Every single time I felt like giving up- I turned on this song and it somehow gave me the strength to keep going.
“Just try your best
Try everything you can”
This short personal story is for my current and hard-working SMU students and all the wonderful graduates walking with me this Saturday. (We did it, Joe!)
In April of 2019, I applied to SMU last minute- a day before applications were due. I was older when I applied, 26 years old, and thought I would never get in.
I was not only accepted, but was even awarded a scholarship to attend.
This was the first lesson in my SMU journey: Don’t ever doubt yourself. Don’t compare yourself. Just go for it. Submit that risky application, follow your wild dreams, and never think something is too big for you to try.
“Hey, you know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own”
My first semester at SMU was tough. I had a major tooth infection that hospitalized me and set me back in my schoolwork for a solid month. As soon as I recovered, I faced a situation with my mental health that was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. I remember thinking I would never recover, and I swore that semester I would either fail all my classes or completely withdraw.
I didn’t- I finished that semester strong.
“Live right now
Yeah, just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough
For someone else”
The next semester, Spring 2020, started great. Oh, but March 2020, how I loathe you. No student was prepared for the pandemic and lockdown. Completely transitioning to online school is an accomplishment we should all put on our resumes. The fact that we made it through our programs with a mid-degree-crisis and still finished is something we should all be proud of. We made it.
And then came Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, which were the hardest semesters for me personally. I dealt with multiple challenges with my own health (including getting COVID), car accidents, family health issues, and personal battles that seemed impossible.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it all, but I really did not think I would academically survive either of those semesters. I remember thinking I’d probably have to be at SMU for another year or two. Through those lowest of lows, I doubted myself a lot. I wanted to quit so many times and just write myself off from earning a degree. It all seemed like too much. But it was all in my head, and I had to learn to constantly reaffirm and speak these lyrics to myself.
“It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything’ll be just fine
Everything, everything’ll be alright, alright”
The point I am trying to make in all of this is please don’t give up. Nothing is too big for you because, kids, you’re going to make it.
Graduates- I am so proud of you for pushing through and getting here today. I know I am not the only one who has struggled. We all face challenges in our own lives and the fact that all of you are here today, about to walk across that stage, is beautiful. Be proud.
For you current students and future graduates- remember it does not matter if you’re good enough for someone else. Be yourself. Take it day by day and, no matter what, keep going. It’s a ride and you’re in the middle of it and, eventually, it’ll end. (And then you’ll get on your next ride).
Congrats to everyone for making it thus far and remember, everything will be just fine, everything will be alright.