Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Even When It's All About You, It's Not Always All About You

June 8, 2010

Graduation is tomorrow night at our school--the night these seniors have been waiting their whole lives for. All those late night study sessions, hours and hours of homework over the years, and the time and effort expended on just the right balance of procrastination and sincere work ethic are about to pay off. For some of you, high school was a breeze, something to be endured until the more challenging work of your life's interest began. For others, walking across that stage at graduation was never a sure bet, but you persevered anyway and maybe even surprised yourselves to learn that you had accomplished your goal. Either way, graduation is something to be proud of--a true milestone.

But here's the thing: All that pomp and circumstance and ceremony that takes place on the night that's kind of all about you? It's not really all about you! Now, the diploma, that beautiful golden ticket that can open so many doors to your future, the black-and-white evidence that you've made it through to the other side--THAT'S all about you. The actual ceremony? Not so much. Quite honestly, that ceremony is all about your parents and your families who have made it through this journey right alongside you. It's to celebrate and honor those who have put up with you (or have been supportive of you) for these past several years.

These are the ones who drove you to the football games and AP prep sessions, who attended Back To School Night and emailed your teachers just to check in, who made sure you had lunch each day, who printed out countless essays and made sure the requisite posterboard for the last-minute project was available. These are the ones who fretted and worried and, yes, even nagged when your grades were less than you were capable of, and these are the ones who comforted you or shared in your stress when you felt overwhelmed with finals or daunting projects. These are the ones who, not just this year, but for the last thirteen years, have re-lived all their own homework experiences as they helped you through State Reports and Mission Reports and dioramas and Bio Boards and speeches and power point presentations and skits and essays. This big night, this All About You night, celebrates and honors those people, without whom you would not be standing up on that stage.

You have heard, I am sure, that graduation is a privilege. No one is guaranteed a ceremony, but it is a rite of passage in many ways. It can seem a bit restrictive, though, I know--you must adhere to a certain style of dress, you may not bring anything but your car keys to the ceremony, pictures can only be taken at certain times, you may not throw your hats into the air at the end of the ceremony. I've heard kids complain that the rules take all the fun out of graduation for the kids, and that since they've earned their diploma, they ought to be able to act as they wish at their own graduation. But as I'm sure you've also heard, rules are there for a reason, and it's not just because administrators want to ruin your fun. It's because they want all of the parents to be able to see their kids walk aross that stage and share in their moment, unimpeded by someone's senior prank or effort to draw attention away from their child during their moment to shine. It's not just about you, you see; it's about your parents getting to see public acknowlegment of all you've accomplished.

So remember this on graduation night, when your dad suddenly gets a little misty-eyed, or your mom wants to take the 1014th picture of you and your friends after the ceremony. Humor them, recognize their place in all of this celebration. Recognize that this is just as much about them as it is you. They have been waiting their whole lives for this moment as well. You'll get to your party and your own celebration with friends in due time; while you're there in the moment, let them revel with you and bask in the spotlight of your accomplishment, which is at least in part theirs, too. And while you're at it, don't forget to thank them. A hug wouldn't hurt, either. Happy graduation. And happy graduation to your parents, too!


  1. Well said, Donna!


  2. Well said Donna! As a parent, it's very frustrating to attend a ceremony with air horns blaring, balloons in front of you, people standing in front of the graduates during the ceremony, people up and down the aisle in front of you . . . tough to get pictures, take video or even hear someone's name as the ceremony progresses. I would hate to have anyone injured by those hard cornered grad caps and with that many graduates, odds are something would happen. Have a great grad ceremony and a safe and fun sober grad celebration. I'll be thinking of you guys!

  3. Hope you have a great ceremony. Well said!

  4. Beautifully said, Donna! Actually got me a little teary eyed, thinking about the ones I will be attending in years to come...

  5. This sounds like such a long way off to me... But the first one will be in (hopefully!) thirteen years. Okay - that still sounds long - but I'm sure it will go by in a flash. I'll have to print this out so I can have it on hand when I need it!