Today’s the day! The day all of those all-nighters, coffee binges, breakdowns, homecoming dances, chemistry tests, locker room talks, football games and theatre performances lead up to. It’s your graduation day. I graduated from high school this past spring. It was a cordial event. But now that time has passed and as I continue to fine-tune and finish this chapter in my life before I head off to college, here are some things I wish I had done on graduation day.
1. Really Take the Time to Say Goodbye to People
Yes, we weren’t all leaving that very second. However, that day was the last day everyone was all together at once in one somewhat of a convenient space, like the people who were my "school friends,” my lab partner in chemistry, that one kid I ran into in the bathroom every now and then and that one person who always lent me a pencil in study hall. Something that hadn’t quite processed in my brain was the type of goodbye I was casually giving out. It was not a goodbye for now with these people. It was a goodbye for good. As I sit here, almost halfway through my summer, I’ve unfortunately finally realized that. If I could go back, I would have taken the time with them, absorbed it and felt it for just a little longer instead of giving a half-assed wave across the turf. We’re doomed to a relationship of social media. Just like in school, they pop up every now and then on your feed. Only this time it’s a photo, nothing else.
2. Really Thank My Teachers
Whether you enjoyed your experience with your teachers or not, they've dealt with you for the past four years and have helped you grow into the individual you are today. Let me make this clear. This day is about you and the giant success you’ve just achieved. Yet it’s an emotional day for them just as much as it is for you, maybe even more. So, for the teachers that attend the ceremony, thank them. Approach them, shake their hands, hug them (or do whatever you’re mutually comfortable with) and thank them for the time they’ve spent educating you and helping you grow.
3. Really Take Loads of Pictures
Pictures really do last a lifetime. They capture those moments you may forget in years to come. At graduation I did take a few. You know, the ones where mom needs proof that you and your siblings could stand next to each other for a SECOND without being at each other’s throats. Those are nice and just about crucial but I wish I had snapped the natural moments — our husky mascot fist-bumping the graduates, counselors hugging each other for getting through yet another year, the crowd of families in the stadium and my fellow classmates laughing and smiling together. Because those are the moments that you do and sometimes don’t see in life as they pass by. The candid ones. The most honest pictures.
4. Really Let Go of the Irritation of the Day and Enjoy It Instead
June 4 was a steamer filled with 90 degree heat with the ever-so-lovely addition of 10 degrees from the turf, the multiple speeches and the delivery of 825 diplomas while being surrounded by hundreds of students. Not to mention the sticky, suffocating entrancement of irritation, sweat and the inevitable weighted feeling of your future closing in around you. The lines were long, the faces tired, the students anxious. The day felt more like a chore than a celebration. But every experience is what you make it. And a day like that is far more worth enjoying than fretting.
5. Really Allow My Emotions to Breathe
Now, I say "breathe" because many a times I notice emotions in public situations being bottled up, left to diffuse in some deep dark corner of one’s soul. Maybe the problem was the variety of emotions I was feeling — the excitement, relief, sadness, anxiety, determination and the fear all vibrating at once scaring me. With these emotions buzzing around wreaking havoc, I purely shut them off. They were yet another thing to think about that day and in the end I wanted to just be. At first, it seemed like a solid plan. But now, as I look back on that day, those besmirched emotions slither back up from that dark corner bit-by-bit, nibbling away ever so slowly as I live further and further away from that day. I’ve learned that allowing those emotions to be, not just you, but all of you, to be, leaves you in a calmer state of mind once dealing with this change later in life.
You’ve probably noticed that I started each point with “really.” It was all simply for emphasis. I really recommend performing these steps as you enjoy the day you’ve been waiting for the second your pure freshman self walked through those high school doors. Really take in those moments and really put in the extra bit of effort. You’ll be really happy you did.
Lead Image Credit: Pixabay