It's convocation season, and if you're attending your graduation, you know there are a whole whack of emotions that occur as the ceremony approaches. At least for me there has been - my graduation is coming up, and I know I'm not alone when I say I'm slightly freaking out. Graduating is a huge milestone, whether it's from high school, University, or any other kind of achievement. It's a day that you and the people you love will remember forever.
But aside from the cheesy, feel-good moments you'll experience on the day of, the reality is that we will all go through some tumultuous feelings before we get there. The good news is, none of us are in it alone. So, if your grad ceremony is fast approaching and you've got a storm of mixed emotions brewing, this post is for you - as cliche as it is, we're all in this together.
1. Pretending that your ceremony is no big deal
I know me and my friends have been doing this as a coping mechanism, so as to avoid the reality that it is, in fact, a huge deal. It's too difficult to try and wrap your head around what the day truly means; that it's the culmination of your years in a certain place, the end of an era, the beginning of a new and uncertain chapter.
After all the stress of exams, final papers, and saying goodbye to friends, who has the mental energy to actually consider the immensity of your grad ceremony? Not me. I think all of us prospective graduates do this pretending - when people ask how we feel about the day, we respond with things like, 'Oh, it's just a formality', or 'Meh, I'm not that excited.' When inside, we're actually like, 'Wait, what!?'
2. Slowly getting really, inexplicably, nervous
After the pretending phase wears down, the nerves inevitably begin to settle in. If you ask me, the nerves are the worst part, because they cause you to overanalyze every silly detail. What if I fall when I walk across the stage? What if I don't shake the person's hand properly? What if I drop something? What if I get there and they tell me I actually can't graduate?
Anxiety makes things seem a lot worse than they are, and suddenly, your graduation becomes this terrible, looming event in which you're sure everything will go wrong. This phase is a struggle, and honestly I feel like I'm kind of still in it. I know it's hard, but have confidence that you'll get through everything, no problem. I mean you did do four or so years of school, right? You got this.
3. Searching for reassurance from literally everyone
This comes in as a result of the nervous stage, where you're calling around to your friends, relatives, or anyone you know who's been through a grad ceremony. I mean, that was definitely me this weekend. In my moments of mild panic, I called a few friends from school who I knew had their ceremonies last week, and blurted, "Just tell me it's going to be fine!" Clearly I'm coping well.
Luckily, my friends reassured me right away, and promised that no one fell, everything went smoothly, and there were no crazy surprises or disturbances. If you're currently going through this phase, trust me, call anyone who's just been through it - your nerves will ease for at least a few moments.
4. Starting to accept the gravity of what's about to happen
As the ceremony gets closer, pieces of the bigger picture will slowly come together, and the importance of the day that was once too much to comprehend becomes a reality. It's such a strange sensation to realize that you are arriving at a huge milestone; you start replaying the path that got you there in your mind, and you envision all the checkpoints and accomplishments that motivated you to continue.
Your ceremony moves from, 'Meh, no big deal', to 'Oh god, it's happening', then slowly to, 'This day is a huge deal.' And it's important to remember that the day is important not only because it's a life milestone, but because you got yourself there through hard work and commitment.
5. Feeling totally, completely nostalgic
Ah, nostalgia. The emotion that so many adults feel when they reflect on their glory days. The emotion that you, now a (sort of) new adult, will be flooded with when you finally realize what the ceremony means to you, and the sadness that this special time in your life is coming to an end.
Of course, there is also a feeling of tremendous relief; final exams, late-night study sessions, and the general stress of school are also coming to an end. But ultimately, all of your memories, the painful and the joyful, are what shaped your experience. And saying goodbye to that experience at your ceremony is bound to bring some up some good old nostalgia. Cue the ugly cry, friends.
6. Feeling terrified (and slightly excited) for what's next
It wouldn't be a graduation without some serious nerves about what's supposed to come next. Aside from questions from friends, family, and instructors about what your plans are come September, there's the internal emotions about what life will be like from this point on. While a graduation is a celebration of what's passed, it's also an occasion where worries about the future become all that more present.
It's hard not to be afraid, to worry that you won't do the right thing, but like I said before, everyone around you is feeling the same thing. Sure, there are some people who have their plans after graduation set in stone. But even those with the most assurance have their doubts and worries. The point is, you all made it to the ceremony. What comes next, though it might be terrifying, is yours to make. You have the opportunity - now enjoy your day, try not to freak out too much - and let yourself get excited about all the incredible moments ahead.