Graduation! The culmination of hard work, credits, and caffeine. A glorious day in which you celebrate a rite of passage and gracefully ready yourself for the challenges that still lay ahead. A simultaneous beginning and ending.
Or, you know, just another fucking day.
I understand that graduation, theoretically, is a obviously very big deal. A degree is hardly something to snuff at. Nor is all the hard work, time, dedication, and persistence applied to the pursuit of one. It’s a rarefied honor that too many people don’t even have the opportunity to obtain and if you have one, thank your lucky stars.
But the actual graduation day? Yeah, it kind of sucks ass.
First of all, graduation is B O R I N G. Mind and ass-numbingly (you will be sitting for at least two hours, minimum) boring. You have to listen to a lot of people you don’t know talk about a lot stuff you don’t particularly care about. Oh the Student Government Association President has written a commemorative haiku? Congratulations! You will find out you do, in fact, have the ability to fall asleep with your eyes open. And forget about when they talk about a major besides yours. Your eyes will glaze over like a honey baked ham. You will not give two shits about the Lester Crumholtz Chemical Engineering Medal of Distinction (sorry, Lester).
And not only is graduation boring, it’s also a god damn zoo. I mean, obviously, literally everyone and their mother shows up to graduation. It’s a given. But have you ever tried to steer your entire extended family through a campus full of rented white tents and decorative balloons? It’s enough to give anyone a petit mal seizure. Your dad will inevitably complain about finding something to eat and your mom will get lost trying to find a bathroom. And if your grandparents are there too? Ugh, don’t even get me started.
So there’s all this boring, kind of annoying shit, but don’t you at least feel special and accomplished, you may ask? Well, I certainly didn’t. I didn’t like, rip up my diploma and yell “college degrees are basically worthless in our post-2008 economy! Wake up to the jobless recovery, sheep-le! For-profit universities have diluted the prestige of having a bachelors degree!” But I also didn’t well up in tears or have any tingle-y spine feelings when I moved that tassel or shook my dean’s hand.
In fact, the more and more I think about it, the more I realize that graduation was just any other day. It didn’t feel particularly special. I didn’t feel especially grown-up or accomplished. I didn’t cry. My parents also didn’t cry? I don’t know, guys, maybe this is really all my parents’ fault. Who’s to say?
When the day wrapped up and the graduation parties were over, I went back to my apartment. I threw the cap and gown into one of my many suitcases and boxes because I knew I wanted to keep them. But they now reside somewhere in my childhood bedroom (I think), long forgotten and never to be worn again. The degree still stands however, and that’s all that matters.
If there’s any cliché saying that applies to college (and believe me, you are rife with options), it’s most definitely: “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Graduation day is a bust but the accomplishment, well, that’s what actually matters..