Parents arrive in their freshly pressed suits, summer attire fished out from the back of the cupboard and proud smiles plastered on their faces. Graduates, attempting to pull off the ‘intelligent’, or ,since the discovery of J.K. Rowling, the ‘Harry Potter’ look, wander the grounds looking lost, excited and anxious – cloaks and hats attached and they’re ready to walk across that stage and become one of Britain’s hundreds of thousands 2013 graduates. As you hear the lists of hundreds of names that precede you, you can’t decide what is more nerve-wracking. Is it a) that you will fall over as you walk across the flat stage, bearing in mind that you have been walking without falling 99% of the time for the past 21 years or b) that nobody will ‘woop’ when your name is called, making you one of the least popular people on your course. Then the time finally comes, you check your name on the list, make a mental checklist of things you need to do (walk, stop, bow, walk, shake hands, don’t fall) and try to concentrate so you don’t miss your name being called. So much to think about, and then, within thirty seconds your moment is over you are all of a sudden….a graduate (and you want your photo throwing your hat in the air and soon).
The graduation ceremony is filled with many a cliche, we learn about how ‘the world is our oyster’, to ‘follow our hearts’ and ‘it’s not the end, it’s the beginning’. One can’t help feeling when hearing all these speeches a little bit of cynicism. Cliches are now stereotyped as cheesy quotes which are rarely used without a side of sarcasm to go with them – they are littered throughout romantic comedy films and will make half the cinema audience want to wretch, while the other half ‘aww’ or sigh dramatically. Neither of which are classed as normal acts of behaviour in everyday life.
Despite this the history behind them is fascinating; ‘it’ll cost you an arm and a leg’ comes from when painters used to charge clients more depending on how many limbs they wished to have in their portrait as they were harder to draw. ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ derives from an old myth that cats could influence the weather and that dogs were a symbol of the wind. It is clear that these phrases are rich in history – but when it comes to such symbolic occasions or life-changing moments why are we are so cynical?
It’s easy. Before we graduate we are, normally, unemployed, lowly graduands who have nothing to do but find temporary skivvy work, apply for jobs and curl up in front of the TV and watch Jeremy Kyle thinking ‘at least it’s not that bad….yet’. Then, after we have our thirty seconds of fame that all changes, suddenly ‘no challenge is too great’ and ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’ as long as you are enjoying your life!
I graduated two days ago, yet despite the fact that the ‘world is now my oyster’ I still feel like the poor graduand I did two days ago, accept I am getting nearer to Jeremy Kyle and further away from the Apprentice. Let’s hope something is ‘just around the corner’….