Limping down the stairs in my ill-fitting leftover-from-prom heels and stifling graduation gown as a camera broadcasted my every move and “Pomp and Circumstance” droned on in the background, I couldn’t help but question the absolute necessity of this tradition. At the very least, couldn’t they have held the graduation ceremony inside? It was hot.
And, now that I thought about it, where did the idea of a graduation ceremony even come from? Why couldn’t we all just say sayonara to high school on the last day of classes and never look back? It would be a huge time-saver for everyone. But nevertheless, here we were.
The ceremony started with a couple speeches, about how we survived the past four years without dying (barely), how our football team was so amazing (it really wasn’t) and how we were all one big family (united by the elevated cosmic understanding that comes with living in the same general vicinity and going to public school, I suppose). But sitting there, in my alphabetically-assigned seat, surrounded by classmates I barely knew and with the June sun beating down on my back, I started to think maybe I had been slightly too harsh on high school.
Sure, freshman year sucked. Sophomore year sucked slightly less. Junior year sucked a whole lot more. And senior year happened. There were mean girls, perplexing faux pas, soul-destroying classes and chemistry all-nighters. I definitely could not call it the best time of my life, and I was going to be happy to never see some of these people again. Yet, there was still something I was going to miss.
Until now, my life had been perfectly linear. The future stretched out like a ladder with clearly-defined rungs. Kindergarten was followed by first grade. First grade was followed by second grade. I would graduate when I was 17. But now I had reached the top of that ladder. I would never again experience the familiarity, the closeness, or the locality of the K-12 school system. And in front of me lay a veritable ocean of possibilities. I had no idea what to do with myself anymore, and no guiding force to propel me towards the next step.
When they called my name, I was strangely nervous to walk across the stage. It was probably the fact that I had to shake hands with so many different people– but nevertheless I did it. I sat back down in my row, opened the manila folder they gave me. A certificate– top 5% of the class. My report card– a shameful record of my devolution into senioritis. Then, my diploma. It was finally starting to sink in.
Still, there was no holy-heck-I’m-done-with-high-school moment. Instead, the realization that I would never again set foot in the hallowed halls of my local public high school slowly seeped in as the names progressed through the alphabet. My class really was huge. This was taking too long.
After everything was finally over I found myself lost in a throng of kids and parents who seemed to be more intent on taking pictures than vacating the crowded hallway. So my high school experience ended rather anticlimactically. But the point was it ended. I was done with high school. I was a graduate. I was expected to be a fully functional member of society. It was time to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
But first, I wanted to go home and read.
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This isn’t the usual thing I write, but I wanted to Reflect™on how I felt at my high school graduation.
(And if you’re curious, I am going to college in the fall and my major is currently computer science)