A few months ago, I wrote a little blurb about perspectives. I talked about how I just felt like a nobody in university. In high school, I was at the top of my class. But in university, you have like 300 students that are all at the top of their respective high school classes, and there can only be one person at the top of this class. From having so many people recognize you, to being just another number in the midst of many in the passing despite all the sweat and tears… it’s harsh.
Since everyone has implied that “it doesn’t matter”, my graduation ceremony naturally became one of those things that also don’t matter. I had no regrets skipping out on my convocation in mid-June. I felt that it was much more worthwhile to spend that time in Vancouver, rather than waiting half a month in Toronto for a 3-hour ceremony… especially since “it didn’t matter”. And then, when I signed up for the University of Toronto’s Asia-Pacific graduation ceremony, I told myself it was for the sake of other people who thought it should matter. I didn’t want it to matter. Sure, value is a subjective item, and it is normal for each person to have a unique sense of value towards the same object. However, it is discouraging, and even degrading, when you are the sole being that wrenches onto this thing so tightly.
Yes, I was excited for my graduation ceremony; but I was excited for the wrong reasons. I’m a person that likes events. I was excited for the day. I was excited to dress up and do my make-up. I was excited to take pictures. I was excited for the event, not the reason behind it.
So that’s pretty much my inner feelings leading up to Sunday. Even as I was sitting there, waiting for the ceremony to begin, all I could think was “I can’t wait for this to end, so I can take my pretty pictures“. Then, the Dean started talking. He mentioned the significance of the Asia-Pacific region to our school – of course, like 70% of our school is Asian. But he also mentioned us. He talked all the hard work that we put into these four years for our university degree. He understands how hard it is to juggle between classes, clubs, and sports. He knows that no matter how much we pretend that we learned in class, the most memorable lessons are the ones we learned outside of the classroom. He made me feel that my mundane and average university life is a big deal. We should be proud. We deserve to be proud.
And all of a sudden, university graduation is no longer just a piece of paper and a few pictures that you dressed up for. It is four years of hard work. It is a joyous celebration, with a legitimate reason to be excited and proud. The diploma is just a symbol… the story behind it is so much more than words could ever describe.
That is why I want to include a sincere word of congratulations to all the recent university graduates that have been appearing on my Facebook feed, and otherwise. I previously undermined what ‘graduation’ means to all of us. Your graduation isn’t nothing; don’t ever let other people bring you down. You aren’t the only one celebrating. You really do deserve to be proud.
Presenting to you my graduation team of proud smiles! (And I suppose for Sadness, her proud frown):