I half expected to be bored for 3 hours at my stepson's graduation yesterday, as I was at my own high school graduation 18 years ago. Let's face it, I was even bored at my college graduation 4 years later. But in both cases, I was one person in a sea of identical mortar boards, filing onto a vast stage with 700+ other students for a 5-second handshake, diploma handoff, and hurried snapshot.
But yesterday, Jeremy had the good fortune to be one of 92 students filing onto an intimately lit stage, and 20 of them either spoke or performed. He graduated from the Academy of Math, Engineering & Sciences (an early-college charter high school), and the ceremony was held on the campus of the University of Utah in Kingsbury Hall.
I was inspired by the students' bright, fresh faces. Their hope for the future. Their ambitious plans. I felt acutely that not so long ago, I was just like them, bursting with big plans and excited to see what life would bring me next.
If I could go back and talk to myself at age 18, I would do my best to convince me that I'm capable of more than I think. That I should grasp onto every opportunity presented with both hands. That I should never let fear and insecurity hold me back from my potential, as it did too many times. And that's what I hope for Jeremy, too, although figuring it all out for yourself is an important part of growing up. (Wouldn't it be nice, though, to relive those young-adult years with the confidence and self-assurance you gain as you age?)
It was so heart-warming to see him standing on that stage. He has officially closed one chapter of his life, and he's more than ready to move on to the next. I hope life will be good to him.
Good luck, class of 2012!
p.s. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that beneath that serious and elegant gown was a decidedly worse-for-wear Metallica t-shirt.
p.p.s. Notice that I did not say "graduated high school" (an error I heard just this week from a newscaster) but instead said "graduated from high school." I wrote all about that in 5 Grammar Tips to Make You Sound Smarter from a few years ago.