It’s that time of year again. Early May- when the rain is simply unbearable because it’s supposed to be April showers May FLOWERS, but it’s 55 degrees every day and the clouds just can’t seem to leave the party. It’s the time I should be starting my summer plan- to read 300 books, write 500 pages, workout every day (twice), hang out with friends, and “relax”, because somehow the ideal summer schedule includes eight extra hours in a day. And, in these weeks of caps and gowns, honor cords and club sashes, gifts and moving dates and yearbooks and parents, everything feels like chaos.
I’ve been through a few graduations. At the end of eighth grade, my class sat on bleachers in our school gym facing the audience in a commencement mass. We were instructed to keep our knees locked together, because the white nurse-like pinafores we wore would reveal much too much if our legs flared out. Every picture of that day portrays me in deep concentration- I had gotten my makeup done for the first time ever, and I’d be damned if I let my knees separate. In high school, my classmates were forced to travel to our own graduation, because a flood had forced the school to end the Spring Term three weeks early. We wore white rain boots with our dresses for fun. I remember spending the last night before graduation in my dorm room, which I hadn’t occupied for three weeks. That night, tradition dictated that the seniors participated in one final chapel service while the rest of the students waited for us outside to say goodbye. Students stay on the chapel lawn until well past midnight, usually. I admit- my instinct was to silently sneak through the crowd and back to my room, safe from the tears and awkward exchanges. College and graduate school certainly offered their own rights of passage- black gowns, caps that made me fuss with my hair endlessly. Everything must look perfect for the pictures!
After several rounds of this pomp and circumstance, I cannot help but admit that I simply hate graduations. The word “commencement” obviously brings up cliches of new beginnings and opportunity, but I experience these ceremonies as downright anxiety inducing. No one says what is actually true. “See you in a very, very long time…perhaps never!” After each grandiose ceremony, complete with advice and rituals, I feel as though a place I’ve inevitably worked to call home, to build relationships, to find my place within the place, is kicking me out without a second glance. “Welcome to the alumni network, you can donate here and here and here.”
This post probably sounds like a rant, because it’s masking how I really feel at graduation ceremonies, which is so incredibly proud of every single person who has achieved this magnificent goal and yet, so undeniably sad. Graduations mark a transformation of your place in the community- namely, that you’re moving on from it. Even after four of my own and several of friends and family, I will never get used to these ceremonies. They break my heart as much as they make it fly.
I do feel immensely proud of everyone graduating at this time. You deserve every bit of congratulations for working your behind off for one, two, four, six, or maybe thirteen years! I hope you throw your cap in the air with everyone. I hope you wave at your friends when you receive your diploma (even if it’s really a blank tube- you’ll get it in the mail six weeks later). I hope you cry a little- because this moment is bittersweet and you deserve the difficult goodbyes too. Congratulations, classes of 2017! All my love to you ❤