The Moment I Realized that the Journey is the Actual Reward

This Saturday, my undergraduate journey in college is coming to an end. I will virtually graduate from the University of Connecticut and it has been one wild ride. It has taken me five years to get to Saturday, but the destination isn't as great as I thought it would be when I realized I was going to graduate.


I had some tough times the past five years. When I went to Lafayette College on a football scholarship, I felt that my dream had come true. At Lafayette there were a lot of good times, but I also experienced some of the toughest moments of my life. My football career came to an end earlier than expected which was very difficult for me to handle. On top of this, I gained an additional 40 pounds after football ended and I was on the verge of severe health issues.


I ended up transferring to UConn because I wanted to be closer to home due to my post concussive issues which ended my football career. I knew I needed to transfer for my own health, but that doesn't mean I was happy about the change. Quite frankly, I was angry. I had worked my butt off to get to Lafayette on that scholarship and it was gone in what felt like a blink of an eye.


At UConn, I hated going to class everyday. I hated school. I hated my new life. I wanted to drop out and I thank my parents that they wouldn't let me. I was miserable and it took me awhile to settle in to my new situation. It wasn't until I accepted where I was that I became content with my new life. This acceptance made my journey start to get a little better. I put my head down, I kept my eyes shut and I continued moving forward. I knew what I needed to do to get to this Saturday and I was willing to do whatever it would take.


There were points in the past five years when I didn't think I would graduate. There were many times when I didn't know who I would become after football. There were moments when I thought I'd be obese my whole life. In the past five years, I have made it to graduation, I've identified by much more than just football, and I've lost 140 pounds.


So this takes us back to Saturday's virtual graduation. This past weekend I was sitting there knowing I had made it to a place I never thought I'd reach a few years ago, but I felt unfulfilled. I wasn't getting to walk across the stage to accept my diploma and I realized my undergraduate degree is just the first true step in my future academic career.


Despite this, I continued to think about the past five years and what it took to get to Saturday which filled me with gratitude. I had overcome so many obstacles and transformed myself in every single way possible. This Saturday's destination isn't the real prize. The real prize was every struggle that I battled the past five years to get to Saturday. Overcoming these struggles made me into the person I am today and prepared me to continue my journey moving forward. I wouldn't have had things any other way.


"Roads were made for journeys not destinations" - Confucius

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Tanner Kern is a 22 year content creator and endurance athlete from Connecticut. He is the host of The Tanner Kern Podcast and creator of "It's a Process: My Tips for Becoming the Best Version of Yourself."

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