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High School Graduation and New-found Independence

graduation and freedomThis post first appeared on Mona Andrei’s personal blog, Moxie-Dude – Life updates gone wrong. Or right. I’m undecided.

Last night (or possibly last week, by the time I post this) was my youngest daughter’s convocation ceremony. Robes, tasseled hats, wide, youthful grins, and a sense of accomplishment. These, along with a flock of beaming parents (and cameras), filled a gymnasium that I’m certain was moonlighting as a sauna.

If you’ve ever been to a high school graduation, you know that it’s a lingering process. Depending on the size of the school, 200+ students are individually recognized for their five-year achievement as one by one they’re called up on the stage to receive their high school diploma.

And then the recipients of awards, bursaries, and scholarships are named and congratulated.

And then the valedictory address.

And then the principal’s closing remarks.

As parents, it’s one of those moments (and by moments I mean hours) where a blend of emotions reach the surface of a life-hardened exterior: Pride … melancholy … sadness … even regret.

Watching these teenagers as they stood with timid pride on the threshold of a closing door – excited, curious, and anxious for the next chapter of their lives to begin – I had the opportunity to think back to when I was that age. The silent yet screaming hormones. The peer pressure. The awkward pimples and greasy hair. The uncertainty of who we are and feigned attitude of self-assurance.

High school, let’s face it, is not an easy time for most. It’s a popularity contest. It’s a time of self-loathing. It’s a test of personal values, even though you’re still not sure what those values are. This is how I remember high school.

And yet as I watched last night’s teenagers walk with pride and excitement in front of family, friends, and strangers, I realized that high school graduation is not just an academic achievement, but also a chance to lay down the foundation for an unknown future. A future that holds no promises yet whispers mysteries of encouragement drenched in ignorance, like unripened fruit covered in chocolate.

Sitting in the audience last night, I was reminded of one of my favourite expressions …

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings.

Where last night’s teenagers are the bird and life is the branch, this makes so much sense to me.

Fly on, little birds. Trust in yourselves and your aspirations.

Your future … your dreams … your life …

Your experience of all of these depends on you. Not your circumstances. Not the crap that life will surely through onto your path. But on your attitude and on your trust in your own aptitudes.

Fly with pride. Soar with confidence.

Mona Andrei

Mona Andrei is a technical writer for a serious company in a serious industry. When she’s had enough serious for one day, she likes to write irreverent posts for her personal blog, Moxie-Dude, life updates gone wrong. Or right. She’s undecided. Follow her on Twitter @MoxieDude

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