I work in a school. I report to one of the underrated and almost never- known-to-exist offices. After my office work, I handle two to three subjects, either in Economics or Research. This is what makes my life everyday. Computer and paper works during daytime and later dealing with a bunch of serious, naughty, hardworking, and lazy college kids.
In my several years of working, I have witnessed students come and go our small school. I guess the most anticipated moment in their lives as college students would be their graduation. I was once a college student so I know how it felt. Graduation is like a bitter sweet day. The day signifies surpassing the four years of sleepless sacrifice and hardwork. At the same time, graduation means leaving away the lousy, carefree, daredevil adventurous college days.
Graduation for me should be a blissful, heartwarming and one of those dramatic events. I guess this applies more to the parents, especially those who have to move the heavens and earth to finance their children’s college degree. However, based from my personal experience, I didn’t view my college and even my other graduations this way. Perhaps I’m too overwhelmed with the idea of graduation. I was overpowered by the preparations and material things. In effect, I tend to forget the real meaning of graduations.
Allow me to each recall and describe the six, (YES SIX!) graduation rites that came to my life. These include my kinder, prep, grade six, fourth year, college and MBA graduation.
Kinder – My first ever graduation! I studied in a small pre-school near our place. The rites were held outside our small school. It started late in the afternoon, just in time to subside the scorching heat of the sun. I was wearing a white dress. This was my only graduation where I had tons of pictures because my mother inherited a camera from my rich Auntie. Ironically, despite the excessive printed pre-digital photos, this was the graduation where I had the vaguest memories.
Prep – My parents wanted me to study in this famous all girls school in my hometown. Unfortunately, I failed the prep admission exam. My parents decided to postpone their dream and enrolled me in another school. I instead went to the “pink school,” because of the pink uniform I hated. I also have gazillion of pictures compiled in a photo album from my prep graduation. But just the same, I have no vivid account of the event. The best that I can remember is that I graduated with my cousin, who happened to brag an award. She was the smart and lovable daughter. I was the struggling and bashed as the ugly, dark colored skinned kid in the family.
Grade 6 – After six years, I am able to experience graduation again. This time, I am no longer the obedient kid. As they say, I’ve grown devil horns on my head. My poor academic performance was causing headaches to my parents.
I was able to move out of the pink school when I reached grade 1. Hence, my grade 6 graduation is like a step closer to my parents dream. My father particularly wanted her only daughter to finish in an elite exclusive all girls school. At this point, I am all grown up and I was looking forward to my High School life. I survived my difficult Math and Science subjects, without a tutor. I guess I made my parents proud of the little independence I have exhibited.
High School – I can’t exactly find the words that will capture all the emotions during this day. Graduation that time meant leaving the school that housed me for 10 years. Leaving the place and people that molded me for 10 years was not easy. I was happy to finish High School but at the same time, I was sad because I was moving away from home.
Just a little side story of my High School graduation, apart from the separation anxiety, I got pissed off on my graduation day. My mother hired a gay beautician who plastered my face with excessive foundation and make up. He literally played with my face and that agitated me. I cursed the heavy make up to the extent that I throw away all my pictures. After that incident, I never trusted gay beauticians again.
College – This was supposedly an emotional event for me. My mother was already contented knowing that I will finally finish school. The finances and worries are finally over. But I believe I gave her more than what she wished for. I was able to graduate with honors. I was able to give my mother a better seat and the chance to walk to the stage with me. The moment was just so priceless.
My only regret is that we don’t have enough pictures to relinquish the moment. The antique analog camera we inherited already gave up. Also during those times, using film powered cameras will give me a huge source of embarassment. Financing my studies was already a burden for my parents. Hence, even owning a decent camera is something my family can’t even afford.
The sad part of graduating with honors without camera and pictures to upload became one source of my regrets and frustrations. My parents were still recovering from expenses and the best thing that they can give me was a new dress. My auntie, who owns a shoe manufacturing business, sponsored my shoes that almost ruined my supposedly my once in a lifetime graduation walk. The shoes gave me a hell of blisters. But for the sake of savoring my award, I pretended everything was fine.
MBA – This was my last and I guess most cherished graduation. When I was still in college, I promised myself that I will pursue my masteral studies. When I started working, that was my first goal. I saved up and sacrifice part of my hard earned salary to finance my graduate studies. I learned the value of money the hardest way during those times. I was only starting to earn and I was obliged to support my family. With God’s help, I was able to finish my graduate studies.
The best part of my last graduation is realizing that I was responsible for everything. I worked hard for my achievement. I almost qualified for honors and to be honest, I was already proud and happy that I will graduate. Receiving honors will make me happier but I never really wished for it. It’s just that days before my graduation, some envious mammals and supposedly trusted friends made bad side stories. That incident still haunts me but here’s what I have learned and held on, honors and awards are just pieces of material achievements. More than a piece of medal, I value more the priceless respect, honesty and integrity that I have earned in my years of existence.
After relating the six graduations that came in my life, here are some learnings and realizations I’d like to share
1. Graduation is the end goal of the years of sleepless sacrifice and hard work. Make the day special by recalling all your efforts to reach this date. You will enjoy more your graduation walk if you have this moment of recall. In case you felt so emotional, save those tears after the ceremonies 🙂
2. Graduation is the day your parents have been waiting for. Graduation is not just about you. It’s about your parents who deserve all the recognition after exhausting all means to finance your years of studies.
3. Don’t forget to take a few good pictures. Let me emphasize the few yet quality pictures. Pictures were invented to capture the priceless and once in a lifetime moment. Graduation and not the tons of picture to be uploaded in your Facebook account is the priceless source of memories. Moments are captured in pictures. Pictures are not the moments to be captured.
4. Counting on my personal experience, I’m particularly addressing this to all the female graduates. If you can do your own hair and make up, then do it! Don’t risk your look to some gay beauticians that will cost you a lot, only to ruin your day.
5. Purchase the best comfortable shoes! Graduation entails a lot of standing and walking. More than getting the most stylish pair, be sure they are very comfortable to last you standing and walking. Don’t invest much on your wardrobe especially if you will be wearing an academic gown (toga).
6. Thank your teachers, whether you hate or love them. Some of my teachers congratulated me after the graduation. I now realized that I failed to thank any of my mentors. Now that I am an educator, I realized how good it felt whenever a student leaves me with true and sincere words of appreication.