Exciting news! I graduated on Monday night with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing. The experience made me reminisce on high school. High school valedictory was a proud moment shared with best friends. Sadly, graduating from university was nothing like that.
Finishing is surreal. The semester fizzled out so gradually that I’ve been in holiday mode for over a month now. University doesn’t offer you the emotional build up and transition that high school does. Being handed your glorified-toiletpaper degree by an ancient academic is no substitute for crying on the shoulder of your favourite teacher. The only time I felt any sense of finality and excitement was when the concert organist played Chariots of Fire. That smidge of sentimentality hit me hard as I sat among strangers with a mortarboard-induced headache. I smiled to see my family waving wildly from the front row.
Graduation got me feeling existential. I’ve changed beyond recognition since leaving high school. I lost the baby fat riding my cheeks, grew out my pixie cut, and discovered that Kmart is not the only vendor of fashion. I learned to drink and swear, bought a car, wore platform heels, had my life broken and rebuilt numerous times. I’m painfully aware that I am the sum of everything I have ever experienced and everyone I have ever known. I’m not all I hoped to be, but I can embrace what I am. For one, the worst people I’ve met are no longer in my life. And the best people I’ve met are closer to me than ever – a small but supportive safety net of friends. Having this is possibly my proudest achievement.
I wish graduation had been an experience more worthy of nostalgia like finishing high school. But at least I know now what I want. I have another year of postgrad studies planned and a goal at the end of it. Six months ago I was at my lowest point. I can confidently say that this is my highest. I can only go up from here.