Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of commencement speeches. I enjoy watching these speeches because it’s like free commencement without paying all the tuition necessary to attend.
People around me are so sad about not having a ceremony, which got canceled shortly after spring break. But, for me, it’s not really a thought that bothers me. The previous semester, I claimed that I didn’t really have that many attachments to endings. Now that I have something to lose, it still doesn’t feel like a powerful emotion to me.
What is a commencement supposed to represent? It is just walking to receive diplomas followed by an inspirational speech that is supposed to motivate us to change the world, or something. It is a ceremonial conclusion to a saga, a nice bow to wrap up an otherwise pleasant gift.
I am grateful that I was able to attend college. But, in reflection, I find it hard to believe that I genuinely had a good time here. I treat commencement not as a goodbye party at the end of the year but just as a needless celebration to an otherwise strenuous journey. Because, when you are hiking up a particularly difficult mountain, the least you want in the very end is a celebration. Sometimes, I just want things to end and go to sleep.
That’s really what it is like to me. I jokingly say that I have been “mentally checked out since sophomore year,” but there is some semblance of truth in that. It was one of those periods of despair that have made me into a stronger person, which I am thankful for. But the least I want is to relive those moments, or celebrate them for that matter.
The four years of college have the temporal association as being the four years of college. They come in a package. Now that I am at the end of my tenure in college, I am able to evaluate objectively how I have experienced those four years in college. I am at a pretty happy state in my life right now, but those four years were not a happy time. The simple truth was that the vast majority of my college experience was a pretty sad time.
This last bit before graduation… it’s almost like the last two months of a presidency before a change in administration. Whatever history books will write about the last four years have already been determined, so I’m just enjoying the last bit knowing that history has not been kind to interpretation.
Of course, this is quite a fatalistic thing to say, and I no longer subscribe to this frame of thinking in practice. Realistically, I am just trying to enjoy this moment as much as I can, attempting to pursue as many interests and relationships as possible. But, as a product of reflection, I am quite metaphorically done with everything.
I can’t wait for it to be done, so I can move on to the period in my life, unencumbered by the past four years.