There are several moments in one’s life that hold great personal significance. The first steps, the sixteenth birthday, the first sip of booze – all of them figure greatly into our developmental process. These rights of passage are a sort of checkpoint, affirming that we’re on the right path.
One of those moments in life is one that we have all experienced, with either a feeling of great accomplishment or one of unnerving dread: Graduation.
I’m a classical singer and I have lucky have a regular position singing at a Catholic Church that is connected to a fine school. Tonight is their Graduation and, as I was thinking about it, I decided to muse on the idea of Graduation.
Graduation is the process of moving from one educational stage to another, signaling completion of a certain part of your life. Graduation can be seen as the gate to a bright future or the end of an era. No matter what our personal opinions are, we have to accept our fate no matter what.
I have several glorious memories of Graduation. In eighth grade, I was made valedictorian (out of seven people, but it’s still impressive damn it!) and borrowed most of my speech from Emperor Palpatine’s speech to the senate in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. One thing you can’t fault me on is that I always take from the best. At my college graduation, I was asked to sing The National Anthem in front of the nearly 3000 attendees. I was scared out of my wits, both because I had to sing one of the most difficult songs ever written in front of so many people and because I was leaving behind some of the best memories and accomplishments I had ever made.
As I have learned in my life, Graduation is one of life’s most significant transitions. Transitions are often the most difficult parts of our lives to navigate, as there are no clear rules for wading through the waters of uncertainty. Usually, a large golem looms in the distance, whether it be college or a job or high school or death.
The thing to do, when facing a difficult transition, is to look at how you’ve reacted to previous transitions. Where did you exceed and where did you fail? What can you do better this time? Who do you know that has gone through a similar transition? There are so many specifics that it all may seem overwhelming, but if you pose questions like these to yourself, you’ll find your brain will stay on track much easier.
The best advice I can give is to not see Graduation as a looming storm cloud, ready to rain on your perfect landscape. We must embrace the fear of the unknown. If we fear what we don’t know, our fear can be used against us. If we look at the situation with objective eyes, we can often see these issues in a brighter light. Don’t obscure your thoughts with doubt and uncertainty, live in the moment and do the best that you can.
Graduation isn’t a bleak end, but a culmination. It’s a precious moment, one to embrace and treasure. It should be, in itself, a shining memory.
A student I teach piano and voice lessons is graduating tonight at the ceremony I’m singing at. Just as I sang at my college graduation, he’s singing at his graduation.
I couldn’t be more proud.