Posts filled under: graduation
(I wrote this for my high school classmates in the form of a Facebook note about a week before graduation.)
I tagged you in this because you’re a senior, simple as that.
I wrote this because you might be one of my best friends, you might’ve been in the same language arts or math class as me, you might be someone I wish I knew better or saw more often, someone who makes me laugh, someone who’s trying to remember why in the world they ever friended me on Facebook. You could be any or all of those people, but whoever you are, you’re graduating. You’re graduating, I’m graduating, we’re graduating. And I wanted to say some things about that, and we all like to say things in different ways, and I prefer writing, so here we are.
(Awkward note: I’m a little out of my comfort zone writing something nonfictional that’s directed at an audience of people who all know me to some degree—okay, way out of my comfort zone. So if it’s weird and you don’t want to read it, that’s okay. If it’s weird and you do want to read it, bear with me.)
Here we are about to leave a hell of a lot of things behind.
We’re leaving high school, which you might’ve loved or might’ve hated, probably some feeling in between. It’s helped us pack our bags for our adult futures with knowledge we’ll use, knowledge we won’t use, knowledge that might one day save your life and then never be of any use ever again. It threw in some life-long friends, some funny acquaintances, stories to share at many dinners to come. And I think if you look in the little front pocket, underneath your toothbrush and some photos from home, you’ll find it also sent you with a seed that holds a good idea of who you are and who you want to be.
We’re leaving people, each of whom you also might’ve loved or might’ve hated, probably some feeling in between. Goodbye forever to some, see you later to others, a big question mark to the rest, although there’s really a question in all of those since we never know for sure. Your family’s still tied to you, but the ropes are growing longer. Your closest friends may stick around in spirit, but you’ll probably have to sever that hip connection to travel different ways. Later in life you’ll see people changing the world and realize you used to pass him in the hallway every morning, she’s the one who fell asleep that one time in US History, those guys snorted milk out their noses when you told that joke sophomore year. Whatever becomes of all these connections later, so many of these people played some part in shaping that seed high school stuffed in your suitcase, and all of them your age are heading out with seeds of their own. I hope I catch a glimpse of all those flowers someday, maybe even get to watch a few of them grow and bloom.
We’re leaving home, leaving childhood, leaving life as we know it behind, and that’s kind of sad, kind of scary, something not all of us feel ready for. But even if not all of us feel ready, I think most of us are ready. It’s kind of sad, kind of scary, but it’s also exhilarating, it’s gates opening, it’s freedom, choices, possibilities, life.
Here we are about to leave a hell of a lot of things behind, but we’re only leaving them because we need space in our bags for everything new and worthwhile that’s out there waiting for us, people and places and accomplishments and surprises and, and, and, and.
We’re too old now for “here’s your school, here’s what you’ll be studying,” but doesn’t it feel liberating to say, “I’m going to go to this school, and I’m going to study this and become this,” or “this is what I’m going to do for a living, and this is what I’m going to do with what I earn,” or even, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but I’ll figure it out for myself when it’s time?”
A lot of what I’m saying is practically dripping with clichés, but the best clichés have become clichés because so many people before us found truth in them. I could fire off so many more that apply to graduation and that I truly do believe.
I guess a short, simple version of what I wanted to say is good luck, to all of you. I hope you find what you’re looking for or something better than you ever imagined. Even if I don’t know you that well, even if we never see each other in person again, I hope you see me as novels on a shelf, hope I see you in whatever form your dreams take on. I hope you got something out of reading this, even though it’s just a rough stream of consciousness from a fellow graduating senior.
So here we are: staring at screens, contemplating the future, approaching the point where our solid line of High School Student frays and we trail our own streaks of finer, winding detail to carve out that future for ourselves.