Why Walking At College Graduation Is One Of The Most Meaningless Ceremonies
It's that time of year again. Sappy goodbye posts are all over your social media feeds. College graduates are saying (or dreading saying) their goodbyes to their roommates, soulmates, roommate-soulmates, sorority sisters etc.
If you're at this stage of life and approaching graduation feeling ready to simply bid adieu, pack up your apartment and head out into the real world, you're not alone. If you're leaving feeling unattached with no necessary farewells, but are being made to feel like you wasted the best years of your life because you didn't find your BFFs, listen to me: Don't feel bad. I was just like you.
Not everyone has the best four years of his or her life while working toward a bachelor's degree. Sure, I made friends at my university. But I didn't meet them on my first day of college, and I actually felt really isolated for the first two years of my college career.
I was lucky because I found a great roommate for my first year in the dorms, who I'm still good friends with to this day. Unfortunately, she and I were the same. We were both the most miserable, homesick and lost freshmen you'd ever seen.
We both went our whole first quarter without leaving our dorm room for anything other than food, class or a mandatory hall meeting. I even applied to transfer because I was so unsure and unhappy.
I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't know where I wanted to go. I didn't know who I was. So, I spent my first few years in college trying to figure that out.
Some people find their niches immediately. They might join Greek life or a club, or have a major that's small enough for everyone to actually connect on a deeper level.
I tried everything under the sun. But it wasn't until the last two quarters of my senior year that I felt like I knew what the f*ck I was actually doing with my life. I finally knew who my best friends were. I finally felt like I had direction, and I was at peace with my choice to stay at UCSB.
But at the beginning, when I realized I hadn't found my people, I hadn't found the best major for my career and I was in too deep for transferring to help, I sucked it up and pushed myself to finish my BA in eight quarters. I thank my AP classes in high school, and I took a sh*t ton of units each quarter to finish this early.
I am 20 years old. I have my bachelor of arts degree. But I didn't go to my commencement ceremony.
When I was 17, my mom asked me if I wanted to walk at my high school graduation. I was baffled because I never knew I had a choice.
Ultimately, I decided to walk in my high school graduation because I felt it not only mattered to me and my family, but it also mattered to my community. During my senior year of high school, I was the editor-in-chief of our school's yearbook.
This meant I was at school from 6 am to 6 pm each day. I also served as an editor on the staff for the other three years. I had the same wonderful teacher during every single first period of every semester, on every day of my high school career.
I was an honors student who preferred to sit and talk with my teachers during lunch, as opposed to my classmates. I was even on the volleyball team for two years. I felt like I contributed.
I felt like there would be people in the audience who would cheer for me, people who weren't in my family. I even go back and visit my favorite teachers at least once a year. I am friends with them on Facebook so that I can keep them updated about my life. They were so influential during my maturation process, and I will be forever grateful.
On the other hand, I can pretty much guarantee you that if I went back to visit any professors from my university, only one would remember me. There are just too many students. I would probably have three other graduates in the audience cheering for me, and that would only be if they were at the same ceremony I was.
The whole graduation experience would not have made me feel accomplished. I don't need to spend the money to rent a cap and gown, take pictures and walk across a stage to shake the hand of an old guy I don't know to feel like I've made it.
All I felt like I needed was my diploma. I said goodbye to the few close friends I had. Then, I left.
I didn't look back.
So, for those of you who can't relate to missing college so much it hurts, I hope you can relate to this.