As you probably are aware, I'm getting my bachelor's degree this week, which means that I am obligated to go through the entire graduation ritual that scholars and teenagers have been going through for ages. The funny thing is that this time, I'm kind of looking forward to it. That's a big change from high school, when the only reason I went to graduation had to do with the fact that my grandparents came all the way from Oregon to see the ceremony. I complained a lot, though, as if that would make up for it. I remember that while we were practicing to graduate from high school, the one thing that one of the guidance counselors* kept telling us was that the day wasn't about us; it was about our parents. I think that made me a little more mad, but it eventually made me go through with it. It ended up not being that horrible.
Still, I had some friends offer to come and watch me graduate this time, which was really kind of them. But in the back of my mind I was thinking, "You want to sit in a metal chair for two hours just to see me walk across a stage for five seconds?" My friends are really supportive of me, but I don't think that I would ever make the same offer if I were in their shoes. I just don't think that it's worth it.
I think that all of this graduation hatred comes from my days as a band geek/nerd, and was forced to play one graduation ceremony every year between the ages of twelve and seventeen. I loved band, but graduation meant one thing: "Pomp and Circumstance," which just so happens to be the most boring, stupid, and lame song to ever be conceived by mankind. In order to truly appreciate the horror that accompanies this song, imagine playing it over, and over, and over again while you watch the people in caps and gowns walk in as if they were holy people. Are they coming in triumphantly? No. The song does not allow triumph, just pomp, with perhaps a dash of circumstance. And as you are playing this boring song for the twentieth time, your band leader says:
"Play, kids! Play until your lips fall off! Play until you bleed!"
Meanwhile, little Manny passes out and knocks over Amy's tuba.
And then you wish your lips were actually bleeding so you could claim cruel and unusual punishment and get the heck out of there, because band night has suddenly turned into a very deadly game of Survivor: Graduation. The last one standing wins the apathy of hundreds.
Now, something you have to know, Gentle Reader, is that this was the culmination of four years of trying to convince two separate band teachers to switch the processional song to the theme from Indiana Jones. "Imagine the awesomeness," I would say, multiple times, in a very persuasive and soothing way. But it was to no avail! Apparently, if you don't play the song, it's not a real graduation. How incredibly (and by "incredibly," I mean "unbelievably") lame and pointless.
Of course, "Pomp and Circumstance" isn't the only lame thing about graduation. Part of it is how people tend to use graduations to try to make a big deal out of things that are essentially meaningless. For example, they decided to cancel PetiteSeour's junior high "graduation" after kids started showing up in limousines, wearing prom dresses. I hate to be blunt, but when you put that much importance into something that is really a grade promotion, people wonder if you're doing it because you're afraid it's the closest you'll get to graduating anything. And by "people," I mean that I wonder if you're afraid this is the closest you'll ever get to graduating everything. The next year at my graduation, the same families sent their older kids to my graduation wearing flip flops. Obviously in this community, the pressure's off once you're sixteen and still on school. After that, all schooling is optional, and high school graduation is just another reason to bring out various beverages that are alcoholic in nature.
On an unrelated issue, I recently discovered that my high school got a six out of ten rating by one of those school-rating websites. I thought they were very generous.
Anyway, after that explanation, I think that it's a little easier to understand why I wasn't initially excited about graduating again. It's so strange for me that I'm starting to actually look forward to it. I mean, this time I don't have to play in the band. (I did at my high school graduation. Again, lame.) And this time, I really feel like I've accomplished something, like my time was well-used, and that I have stuff ahead of me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I actually feel like celebrating this time, that I've actually achieved something. And since it's an academic achievement, I think that I can honor it in the way academics like honoring things.
I've spent a lot of time growing up by now, but it still never ceases to amaze me when I start looking forward to things that I utterly despise. And oddly enough, I think that my guidance counselor's advice still rings true. It really is their day, and my grandparents', who are driving out from Oregon again. And the rest of my family who will be attending. After all, my HermanaMayor is graduating with me, and we're the oldest, so it's kind of a big deal all around.
I wonder what my band teacher would think if he saw me right now.
Regards, best wishes, and real achievement,
*In my high school, my guidance counselors had two jobs: first, convincing kids that they should go to college (which was a lot harder than you might think), and second, organizing graduation. They really put their hearts in it.