Warning: self-pitying bitching ahead.
What’s the point of going to your graduation? I’d say there are two major reasons: (1) you do it for your family and friends so they can celebrate your achievement and be proud of you and stuff like that. (2) you do it for yourself so that you can have some kind of culmination, closure and celebration of your hard work. That being said, I probably shouldn’t have gone to my graduation.
Before I start my rant and complaining, I want to thank my friends who came to see me walk across the stage, especially those who traveled across states to do so. Everyone contributed in their own way (a ride, emergency funds, their apartment lol). Even though I had six friends there with me, I couldn’t help but be aware of the fact that I only had six friends there with me. Let me start from the beginning though.
Yesterday was really rushed, I felt. I had to take a bus from NYC down to Philly the day of the graduation. As of right now, I don’t really live anyhwere so I didn’t have a spot to stay overnight in Philly before the graduation. As soon as I got in the city, I had to get picked up and taken over to the bookstore where I was supposed to pick up my graduation regalia (cap and gown, hood and tassel). I had planned on having it earlier but was unable to get to Philly. They wouldn’t let anyone pick it up for me so I had to wait until the day of. Anyway, I get there and they tell me that they don’t have any regalia for me. EXCUSE ME? Naturally, I stopped dealing with that undergrad lackey and started talking to the managers. Phone calls were made, we searched for the confirmation, everything. No dice. Yo, I know I sat in my room in Tokyo and ordered that shit. Well they don’t let you walk in the graduation if you don’t have regalia. One of my friends had to purchase the $80 doctor’s gown set for me about 10 minutes before I had to be lined up. The stress of that whole ordeal sent me into tears which pissed me off because I was messing up my eye makeup and I didn’t want anyone to think I was crying because I was graduating cuz, well, that’s lame.
Finally, I make it to line up but it’s hot as hell so everyone is sweating in their dresses and oxfords or whatever under those black, velvet-trimmed gowns. I was kind of sour from the preceeding events so it was hard for me to get into a celebratory mood. At that point, I didn’t even know who was really coming and had no way of organizing people because my phone had no service. Finally, we got into the Liacouras center where we could sit and begin the ceremony.
The ceremony itself was alright. Long, but expected. Boring, but expected. The student speakers (for day and evening divisions) were suprisingly pleasant but the Commencement speaker was ripe for that Wrap It Up B box. Overall, I was glad when it was my turn to walk across the stage, hug the Dean and grab my diploma.
Afterward, I gathered my friends, took a few pictures and left out to dinner. I missed most of my classmates and didn’t get to see a lot of people who were taking photos with their families and friends I assume. When we left the law school and graduation site, I felt like I was leaving something I wasn’t supposed to leave. Like I was bouncing too early. Then again, I realized I didn’t have any reason to hang around. No family to stand there and take pics with. No friends to hug on some “oh, I’ll never see you again and I’m going to miss you so much” type steeze. Nothing. So my friends and I made our way to the restaurant and had a delicious dinner that I cannot complain about (especially because I’m gonna get into the leftovers in a little while).
By then, we were heavily sedated with the Itis so we headed to my boy’s crib to pause before going out to a bar that some grads were headed later. After some laughs, some tv and some lessons in “going green”, we lost two of our six and headed downtown to the bar. I had a beer and then folks seemed like they wanted to go elsewhere to dance or hear hip hop so we left out to another bar but that didn’t get much better. Knowing we had to drive back to NY that same night, we just called it a night and started on a drive that didn’t get me home until 5am where I slept on my auntie’s couch.
I feel really “eh” about the whole graduation because it wasn’t how I wanted things to go, ya know? Ideally, I would have been hanging out with friends days before, just doing regular shit like going to lunch or going out for drinks. The day of, I would have liked to go out with family to breakfast or brunch. I wanted to sit my friends and family all together in one section so I’d know where to look when they said we should applaud for our fam/friends. I wanted to gather with everyone after the ceremony and take photos, do hugs, and see smiles. Maybe even introduce my family to the families of my law school friends. Then we could have all gone out to dinner, after which you dump your fam back at their hotel or whatever and you go out dancing with your pals. Finally, I could have passed out right there in Philly with no rushing, no stressing, no falliing asleep on the way back up 95N.
Alas, that’s not what happened. That couldnt’ have happened and I know that. My family didn’t come. Even if they were to come, they’re not the kind of people who can easily be rounded up. Not very easy to introduce them to other people. Not easy to take out to a restaurant. Not likely to go to brunch or get a hotel room or go sightseeing and buy souvenirs. I’ve always, ALWAYS, been clear that where I cannot rely on family I have to rely on friends. It was evident yesterday that I only have friends. I’m appreciative of them but it still makes me feel shitty in a way.
Beyond the issues I probably need to work out in therapy, there was the fact that I didn’t feel like I had much to celebrate. Sure, it’s great to finish law school and have this degree but now what? Graduation speeches kept touching on the fact that the economy is in the shitter and this is one of the worst times to be graduating from law school. While lining up for the processional, I overheard several students griping about not having a job. Graduation is one of those times where you can’t help but look to the future. One chapter is over and you’re supposed to move on to the next. What the fuck is next though? I’m homeless. I’m jobless. No prospects. Living out of my suitcase relying on those friends to give me a place to stay for a week or so before I move on to the next. It’s not a popular thing to say, but I am jealous of many of my classmates and friends who know what’s next. They’re taking the Bar. They have jobs. Shit, they have places to live. I don’t know if it’s true, but I felt like the person in the class who was in the worst situation, the worst shape. I feel like I did this law school thing in the WRONG way. Like I fucked it up somehow. The entire ceremony was just a reminder of that.
Anyway, it’s done. I have earned the degree of Juris Doctor. Now I’ll set about to figuring out what comes next.