Graduation is an interesting time. On the one hand the cynic in me thinks, “Great, you graduated in beer drinking and passed your classes… now go get a job!”
Obviously that’s not the most empathetic or caring approach. (So much for being awarded the “Most Caring” superlative in high school. Sorry to disappoint, VHS…).
I suppose the over achiever in me has a hard time awarding mediocrity. It’s like congratulations, you woke up, went to work, and did your job. You should be doing that as a baseline anyway, right?
But for some, I realize college graduation is a huge accomplishment. Starting and finishing something. Getting up every day, going to class. Taking out student loans. Paying off debts. Making sacrifices for higher education. Creating opportunities for yourself, and blazing a path for a brighter future.
Graduation is also a life change. Transition from student to “adult” perhaps.
There were so many tears as I attended my little sister’s college graduation this weekend.
“Why are they crying?” I thought.
Maybe they are really tired from the all-nighters of finals. Or maybe they are still hung over from partying? I remember getting drunk and basically feeling depressed the next day. I don’t think I cried though. I drew the line at spinnies, and one foot firmly planted on the floor from bed (somehow that was the cure for everything?)
For me I was ready for the next phase in life. I was ready to move beyond college even though my whole life it was, “College is the best four years of your life, Katie!”
Maybe that’s when I realized I was slightly different than my family. Or perhaps any person, ever.
Sure, college is fun. You make lasting friendships, learn to be self sufficient, challenge and think for yourself, go through a little heart ache, get involved with the community and discover a bit more about yourself.
I would argue that the best is yet to come though. It has been true for me.
If college is the best four years of anyone’s life, society is doomed.
By the way, why hasn’t any college or University asked me to deliver a commencement speech? I have been waiting for The University of Iowa to invite me. (Instead I get 319 phone calls asking for donations just like my 909 Red Cross calls. Sorry, I’m not picking up these harassing solicitations).
If I were invited though, it would be an epic speech.
“Thank you, President Harreld, Dean of Students and the Liberal Arts College. And Class of 2017, Congratulations, you did it!
… You didn’t drop out.
… You gained 15-35 more pounds than you would have liked…
… And more importantly I am pleased to remind you that you and your parents will be writing checks to our University for many years to come!
… Isn’t college the best?!
… Now move that esteemed tassel to the left, and let’s get to work on paying off those student loans!”
Like no student would clap for that performance. But I bet I would get a lot of buzz on social media. And secretly every parent would clap for me in agreement.
Aside from graduation, let’s not forget what graduation really represents (yes, my speech continues…).
Commencement. A bookend to the so-called best four years of your life… and a start to the best days ahead!
(I can turn this speech around, I swear.)
Truly. Each day is a gift. Each day we move forward, grow, learn, push ourselves, share new ideas, start careers, move, travel, make friends, decisions, mistakes, ask questions… is another great day we are alive and thriving on God’s great earth!
It’s true there are few things in life a person can take away from you. Education is among one of them.
I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Noelle. And if I had to guess, I would say the best years of her life are still ahead.
Published by Katie Jones
For “shiggles” as Noelle says, I thought it would be pertinent to share a couple journal entries as I approached college graduation nine years ago. This was before “blog” was a verb and pen to paper was my muse…
April 21, 2008
“Iowa City on my Mind”
Iowa City amazes me sometimes with its beauty. Birds chirping, river flowing, and the proverbial hum of cars and construction.
The sun shines down, too, but from an angle that emulates the shape of this building – rusted and recycled like Picasso’s guitars.
I sip my coffee, bright blonde in the sun’s rays and smile. For once I am alone, content in my time and can just reflect on four years never forgotten.
Iowa City on my Mind.
April 28, 2008 (7 days later)
This is what boggles my mind: snow flurries in April. April 28, that is. Especially when there are beautiful blooming trees in Iowa City (which last all of 2.5 weeks… I know from experience).
April flurries bring me fury!
The heavenly sirens
have escaped me.
the poppies under my feet
fading to quartz.
I am happy.
I am silent,
and I am here:
with a map of
the mutual feeling —
I am me —
but the picturesque stature
of my being.