Just walking away

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Illustration by Trevor Robertson

Graduation ceremonies bore me to tears. I have sat through my two older brothers’ college graduations, my oldest brother twice for his Bachelors and Masters degrees. Every single time I would promise myself, and my poor family, that I would not walk at graduation.

I’m not much for tradition. Most of the time I feel like we humans just do things because we’re “supposed” to and that’s just not a good enough reason for me. Whether I sit through graduation or not I still receive the same piece of paper as those who did.

I don’t have to rent the cap and gown, buy graduation announcements, sit and listen to a speech by some person I’ve never met and listen to the announcer butcher my last name. It’s pronounced Plo-tho by the way, silent w.

Last fall I sat in my brother’s second graduation ceremony as he got his MBA from UVU. I couldn’t really hear what the speaker was saying and honestly I didn’t really care. The seats were uncomfortable. I couldn’t even see my brother in the sea of graduates all wearing the exact same thing.

It took forever and a day to finally get to my brother, the curse of having a last name towards the end of the alphabet. When they did, they murder our last name as my brother took the 30-second walk across the stage.

And that was it. All that hurry-up-and-wait for those 30 seconds. Talk about an epic let down. I looked over at my dad and said, “I will not be walking, don’t worry.” He looked incredibly relieved.

I understand that some have the need to have a formal and final celebration of their four or more years of academia. That is just not a desire I have.

When I realized I would be graduating this semester, I took a poll of my family members. Would they be mortally offended if I chose not to walk? No one cared. Not even my grandpa.

I promised them a party because who doesn’t love a party? Instead of putting all the money into the formality of a traditional graduation, I would throw a casual, fun shindig at my apartment for my family, friends, and coworkers.

I hand wrote invitations, which felt much more personal than handing them a pre-packaged and serious looking graduation announcement. Those who know me well would have been taken aback by a traditional and formal event. That’s just not who I am.

The day that little paper with my name on it arrives in my mailbox will be a very happy one. Just like my walking counterparts, it was a bittersweet feeling to graduate and move on from higher education.

I want to end that journey on my own terms and in my own way. I’m keeping it real and walking away. It’s been real UVU.