Well, sports fans, it's almost over. Monday is the final day of classes and Tuesday is graduation at the college. While I will once again be wearing someone else's monkey-suit regalia, I've at least ordered mine. Yes, my very own fancy, velvet-trimmed bathrobe - black with stunning purple accents, edged in gold and topped with a gold-tasseled hat modeled after a brioche. (Hey, no one ever said regalia was tasteful and restrained! Still, it's better than Harvard's, which is pretty much the color of dyed fish bait and that's not sour grapes on my part. See what I mean?)
I like graduation. Some of my colleagues bemoan it and I understand their point of view. It's hot in those robes, which aren't very easy to move around in. We hold graduation in the school's amphitheater, which features some very rigid aluminum benches and boy howdy! can those hold the heat of the Carolina sun! But our students have worked hard - often very hard - and that deserves to be celebrated. So I'll straighten my puffy brioche, ask someone to drape the long hood down my back properly (I never can manage to get the colors to hang right on my own), and stalk around with a packet of bobby pins to secure mortarboards.
So, in the spirit of graduation, the highlights of my never-to-be-given commencement speech:
1. When you're sick enough to go to the emergency room (and you will be), never, ever go alone. Your friends want you to call, not to tough it out because you didn't want to inconvenience anybody.
2. Take an extra two seconds to smile at the people who re-fold the clothes you just tried on and decided didn't suit you.
3. We stay in school to have better opportunities. Don't get so busy with work that you miss them when they come your way.
4. While you shouldn't become a slave to fashion magazines, update your look from time to time. As a person, you're changing and evolving and that should be reflected in your outward appearance. Otherwise, people will continue to treat you as if you're still the age you stopped changing. (And heaven help you if that's during the high school years! Oh, the photos I have from that time . . . )
5. Sometimes, telling someone "no" is the kindest thing you can do for them.
6. When someone who has known you for a very long time gives you advice, even if you didn't ask for it, it's best to listen. However, keep in mind that you still have to live with your decisions and actions.
7. Be willing to expand your boundaries while being true to your own likes and dislikes. For example, I'll try about anything, but I don't expect to ever really like seafood at this point of my life.
8. Read books you don't quite understand. Then spend time thinking about them. You're not stupid; it'll click after a while, but give it a while.
9. Every now and then, play hooky. (This must be balanced with #6, which can be tricky, but you're a grown-up and life involves essay questions.)
10. Don't expect the world to change just for you. The light turns red for everyone sometimes; it's really not personal.
Yeah, I know. Lists usually have ten items, but this is mine, okay? So here's Number 11. Live passionately and by your own lights. This is risky, for it means you'll make mistakes and occasionally, they'll be big ones, and might often be made in public. But you'll at least have been authentic.
Go forth and do good work!