My older daughter Amanda graduated from high school last Sunday. There were many festivities leading up to the graduation including a graduation party we had the week before (yes, I'm aware of this being like opening your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day), my younger daughter Courtney going off to summer camp in Maine, and, of course, the gala known as the prom.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of graduation ceremonies but I am a huge fan of accomplishments. I didn't enjoy my high school graduation ceremony. My mother went back to college while I was in college and I didn't go to her graduation ceremony. She threatened that if I didn't go to my college graduation, I wouldn't have a place to live afterwards so I did. There was no way in hell I was going to my grad school graduation and I have never regretted that decision.
My daughter, though, seemed very happy through all the weekend's events from the pre-pre-prom picture session to the post graduation parties.
While listening to the many speeches given during the ceremony itself, I first felt there was not enough celebrating the milestone. Many speeches focused on the future. There seemed to be a canned phrase of "going to college, entering the workforce, or joining the military" as the next steps for the graduates. The advice on how to be successful in the "real world" seemed to me as comical in it's naivety - these are 17 and 18 year olds that have never seen the real world. Many adults, including yours truly, don't know how to be successful in the real world. It is hard.
But graduating high school is an accomplishment. I'm proud of my daughter for this accomplishment. I'm prouder for what I think she is going to accomplish in the future. That journey is just beginning, not ending with this ceremony. I view the ceremony as the starting line for the next phase in her life. My advice to her and her classmates, enjoy the ride.
PS: Monday I paid my first college tuition bill. There might have been a tear in my eye then.