The Graduation Effect

June 28, 2017

Photo by Oliver De La Cruz featuring Cailin WIlliams for Mad Sounds Magazine Issue 24 


Everybody in identical gowns. A plethora of awards and diplomas. Four hundred caps being thrown ecstatically in the air. Graduation day was a blur of kids running around in green and black (my school colors), taking photos with supportive friends and family, and walking nervously across a stage trying not to trip and fall while keeping the cap on straight.


I graduated high school less than 72 hours ago, and I’m still on that high; ripples of accomplishment and opportunity buzzing through me. I remember sweaty palms, waiting anxiously for my name to be called up. My family was in the crowd somewhere in my blindspot of the blazing lights projected on us. They were there because they had helped me succeed in my five exhilarating years of high school. The idea of five years of school was daunting and mundane, but now I realize that five years is only 1/20 of your life. Sitting on the stage in my hard earned cap and gown, I reflected on the swiftness of the years passing by, like birds swooping from point A to point B in one quick movement.


I was 100% ready to leave high school to move onto my adult life halfway through my last year of school. “Adulting” lured me into its realm of freedom and choice and opportunity; I was completely ready to tackle university, work, and even taxes. When that same question of what I plan to do after high school was repeatedly asked, I envisioned scenes of me in university meeting new people and taking on new adventures. Only, these adventures have great meaning after learning the life skills needed to keep adventure alive.


Graduation obtrusively bursts the high school bubble where we reside for the five years. Suddenly, all the cliques, the gossip of who’s going out with who, and the claustrophobia of routine and limitations disintegrate. I constantly catch myself thinking about how high school resembles prison in some ways: students are made to rely upon specific windows of time to experience freedom amongst rigidly enforced schedules. We sit in a building for six hours, learning about numbers and wars and the fact that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. There are minimal opportunities to familiarize ourselves with the real world; instead, we acquire information that doesn’t really help our brains in the scheme of things.


I am insanely thrilled to be going off to try my own hand at life and all the adulting that ensues. The graduation effect is sudden, leaking into all aspects of life. I can grow in my maturity and develop new skills without being constrained to a six hour timespan. The variety of friends I make will be valuable to me in helping me succeed in life. I will no doubt miss the people who have helped me develop the first part of my identity in high school, and I will cherish those who help me find the rest. We’ll all experience the graduation effect; whether it takes seconds to sink in, or years, it will be monumental.

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January 17, 2019

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© Copyright 2018 Giselle Melendres - Mad Sounds Magazine

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