By Graham "GSM" Matthews
There are two days that almost everyone fantasizes about when they're younger. The first is their wedding day (mostly girls for this one) and the second is graduation. As a kid in elementary school, you almost use the word "graduation" in joking fashion. It feels so far away that it's almost as if it will never come or at least won't come any time for a long, long time. It's the last thing on your mind at that point in your life, if existent at all. Middle school, to me, felt pointless. Obviously, sitting in a school learning something (or attempting to) is better than than sitting at home doing nothing for three years, but it's less about the academics in middle school and more about maturity and prepping kids for high school. Even still, you have graduation on your mind, but you aren't necessarily looking forward to it. You're just building toward it.
By the time high school rolls around, graduation is not only a goal but a point you desperately try to reach. I, personally, hated high school with a passion (read more about that in my previous post) and it felt like the time dragged by immensely. The work is different for everyone based upon their respective learning levels, but there's no questioning that it's difficult. You put up with your dreadful classmates and trudge through it all knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: graduation. No matter how slow the time may go by, you know it's only a matter of time before graduation finally comes.
In your senior year of high school, there are two types of people: those that want to drag out their glory days for as long as possible and those that absolutely can't wait for graduation. Obviously, given my well documented hatred of high school, I fell in the latter category. However, even once the month of June (yes, schools get out quite late where I live) arrived, I still couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that graduation was right around the corner. It certainly felt like the end was near with all the proms, social gatherings and class trips I attended, but even days before graduation, I just couldn't believe it had finally arrived.
If I ever needed a reminder as to when my graduation would be (and I didn't since I had it memorized by senior year), all I had to do was look over at my trusty countdown. As I entered 2013, I couldn't wait any longer for graduation. I had always dreaded high school, but never more during senior year. It had literally gotten to the point where I was counting down the days I had left as a high school student, but it was surreal to see the numbers slowly go from 100 to 1. It's a day your never thought would come, so to come to the realization that it's finally happening is a feeling I can't put into words.
Regardless of whether you loved or hated high school, graduation is a very special day, needless to say. Don't spend too much time in shock over the fact that you feel like you've witnessed your entire life flash before your eyes. If you do that, you'll completely miss the spectacle of walking down the aisle and receiving your diploma. Instead, embrace the moment. Like anything else, it's a once in a lifetime experience, so don't let it go to waste. Enjoy every minute of it as you can.
Of course, take a moment before graduation to retrospect. Whether it be the day off, hours prior or even minutes prior to walking down the aisle/stage, think about your long, hard journey to getting to that point. The good and the bad times, you made it through it all. Be proud of that. With the support from friends and family, it was you that did all the work and "made it" so to speak. Remember the good times and as for the bad times (if they pertain to high school), keep in mind that it's all over and in the past once you receive your diploma. You'll never have to see a single one of your classmates again!
That mind, remember that after graduation, you're in the real world. Whether you're off to college or joining the work force or whatever else, your high school days are over. You're a changed, more mature person. You're an adult when turn 18, but you solidify your status as an adult to be taken seriously when you graduate. Never take that privileged your granted and prepare for what will a new chapter and an adventure in life from that point forward.
Don't be afraid for the future, either. Be excited for it! On graduation day, while it's good to look back on the past and look forward to the future, the most important thing you can do is to live in the present. Soak it all up, you did it! You deserve it all! The feeling of hearing your name called and taking your diploma is thrilling to say the least. Being the wrestling fan that I am, I thought of Randy Savage as soon as I heard "Pomp and Circumstance" start playing when my class entered the building (I even had the urge to do a little Macho Man twirl down the aisle), but it's equivalent to success.
If you're like me, you'll get chills when you hear that song played and maybe when your name is called. Before walking up to retrieve your well deserved diploma, take a moment to glance over at your family and friends in attendance, the people who helped you get to where you are. It's the culmination of a decade's worth of work, but it's also the start of an all-new chapter in life. One year later, I can say that graduation was one of the best days of my life. Sure, I hated high school more than many, but I still took pride in graduating and getting my diploma. If you've already graduated, congrats! If you're set to graduate at some point, good luck! It's a day you'll never forget, so make the most of it!
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