It seems like once upon a time in a land far far away now, but just over four years ago, I was about to graduate from High School. I sang in the school choir in the last three years of high school, having been far too chicken to try out in grade nine. The director was pretty cool, a man with two rings in each ear who couldn’t have been much more than thirty. He had a lot of awesome, useful lessons to teach, and a number of them I’ve managed to hang on to. One of the things he said that I still remember, he wasn’t even saying to me. As we were rehearsing for our performance at the graduation in my second last year of high school, he said something to the soon-to-be graduates, who were going to perform a chamber piece.

I know you’re all thinking about how boring this graduation is going to be, and believe me, I hear you. Listening to a bunch of names being read out for two hours on a June morning, isn’t exactly my idea of a fun time either. But think about something for a minute. There are a lot of people who don’t get as far as you’ve gotten. Think even about everyone you knew in grade nine, how many of them are actually going to be walking across that stage with you? How many have stopped? It may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I can assure you that it is. And you’ve done it. So that, if nothing else, is something to be tremendously proud of. Whether you’re going to be on your own or every friend and relative in this time zone is showing up, finishing high school is pretty impressive, and this ceremony is about celebrating that. Celebrating your accomplishments this far.

Somehow I’ve managed to remember this little tidbit, probably because it made quite an impression on me. I thought about it a year later when I walked across that stage for myself, and I remembered it this past weekend when I walked across a much larger stage, wearing a much nicer gown. If finishing High School was something to celebrate, finishing University is even more so. It’s worth celebrating even if the celebration isn’t exactly the format I’d choose.

Life is about compromise, according to my Dad. Choosing the things that are important, picking your battles. I know it was way more important to my parents and grandmothers that I walk across the stage than it was to me that I didn’t. And I got to spend a weekend with my family in a city I love, that I will very likely be away from for a very long time.

I managed to get across the stage without tripping over my feet, and I was comforted by the fact that the clothes most of the permanent faculty of the university were wearing were sillier looking (er, I mean very symbolic and ceremonial) than the ones I was wearing.

Even if the ceremony was a little on the tedious side, I spent the weekend with my parents and grandmothers, and all involved now have more photos of me in a funny dress and hat than they know what to do with, so it’s worth it.


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