Graduation may seem like a lot of fuss over nothing, especially if all you want to do is take a moment to relax and enjoy summer after finishing high school or college. Huge crowds, long speeches and the expense of robes you wear only once can all be a hassle, but graduation is also a special occasion filled with meaning. Whether you choose to celebrate by attending a traditional ceremony or holding your own festive bash, graduation is important and worth doing right.
High school graduates are celebrating more than a decade of hard work, while college graduates are concluding years the most difficult academic and intellectual work they’ve done in their lives. If you’re among them, you’ve just proven not just your ability to put in the time and effort to complete unthinkable amounts of schoolwork, but also the emotional resiliency to deal with all the drama that comes with high school and college alike. You also may have accomplished things in extracurricular activities like student politics, sports, academic competitions, the arts and more.
All of those things deserve recognition, so consider celebrating in a way that commemorates not just school itself, but everything that happened along the way. If you were part of a club or other organization, consider finding a pin, jewelry, hair accessory or other item that reflects your passion and hard work to wear as you walk across the stage. Alternatively, plan a trip that celebrates your particular journey. Were you interested in the sciences? Plan a trip to an amazing museum. Did you and your friends talk about getting in the car and just driving away from it all when semesters got rough? Maybe it’s time for a road trip. The important thing is to make the celebration about you.
That said, graduation isn’t all about you. Some family members have likely supported you along the way, while others would probably enjoy the opportunity to congratulate you on your achievements. While it’s ultimately your special day that you should celebrate (or not celebrate) however you like, if you’re up for sharing it with other people, it can be a lot of fun.
Family gatherings can be a great way to reconnect with family members who you might not see for a long time once you go to college or head out into the professional world. Whether you invite them to see you walk or have a separate gathering where you can focus less on formality and more on having a good time, you’ll be making memories and reaffirming the bonds that matter most.
However, you also shouldn’t forget your friends. It might be even longer before you see many of them again as they all spread out across the state or even country to go on post-graduate adventures of their own, so it’s important to make the most of the time you have.
While one huge gathering can be fun, it can also be less personal than smaller or even one-on-one hangouts with your best buds. Either way, while you may see many of them at the graduation ceremony itself, you’ll want time outside of it as well. Go to a concert or amusement park, visit your favorite restaurant or just return to a favored haunt and reminisce about old times.
The Next Stage of Your Life
While graduation is about celebrating the past, it’s also about the future, whether that’s more education or the start of a new career. While you should enjoy the present, you can also celebrate by looking toward all of the new opportunities coming your way. Consider throwing a party themed around whatever your next big life step is. For college, you can choose streamers that match your future school’s colors, while a new job might warrant decorations that reflect your new career. (Admittedly, marine biology majors might have an easier time with this idea than software engineers, but you can always get creative!) If you’re moving somewhere new, you could even design the party around that. Moves abroad might be obvious choices for this idea, but who says a California or even Wisconsin party can’t be a good time?
Whatever you do, enjoy yourself in the moment, take plenty of pictures so you can do the same later, and above all, take pride in your accomplishment.