Graduation is a big deal. Plenty of people like to see it as the total culmination of a young person’s character and dedication. As the greeting cards say, “You Earned It Champ!” Earning a degree isn’t easy and deserves celebration.
The catch, though, is that celebratory public events like commencement are a prime breeding ground for Special Snowflakes and that makes life a whole lot harder for those who are unlucky enough to trespass into the glow of their imaginary limelight.
Snowflakes, you know who you are. You’re the person who lays awake at night trying to think of clever plans to get the most attention in any given situation in order to prove that you’re the most charming, talented, and/or attractive person in the room. Your birthday party had it’s own hashtag. And dance number.
To you, commencement is not simply an age-old ritual that will swell your family with pride. Your shuffle across that stage to receive your diploma while hundreds of sweaty kids draped in polyester await their turn behind you is your moment to shine — not for your academic achievements, but for some other part of your glowing personality that you’re worried the rest of us have somehow missed. Sure, you’re dressed exactly the same as the 500 other young people in the room and the thousands of people in the audience are socially obligated to give you unconditional applause. In your mind, though, that crowd is teeming with agents, reality TV producers, and maybe even Oprah. Graduation will be your big break — or at the very least, it will prove that you’re way more fascinating than all those other poor suckers who just happened to infiltrate your campus while you spent the last four years on your special hero’s journey.
You plan to set your destiny into motion on graduation day by utilizing your 15 seconds of fame in the most “original” way possible. After all, nothing says “I’m a fascinating, multi-layered human being who is clearly on the road to success” quite like twerking across the stage to your diploma, doing a backflip, or leaping into the splits. I mean, stuff like that worked in second grade, so why wouldn’t it work now?
For some of you, the show-stealing isn’t quite so premeditated. Sometimes, graduation day begins with good intentions as you innocuously cheer on your peers and wait to calmly walk across the stage. That is, until the guy with a last name a few letters ahead of yours in the alphabet trips and falls onstage in a spectacular display of humiliation. The audience holds their breath, but as he manages to recover by laughing and taking a grand bow, the crowd roars into applause. That heady, delicious rush of greed and envy that you know and love pulses through your veins, and you turn to a fellow Snowflake friend to make an expression of mutual disgust. How dare that guy steal your thunder like that!?
You scramble to think of a way to top that epic fall. Gone is your plan of quietly accepting your diploma as you were instructed in the rehearsal. Falling Dude declared an attention war, and now you must win and bask in the drug-like high that comes with your victory. You know that all the other Snowflakes in the auditorium are also dreaming up moves, but you decide that nothing is more clever than orchestrating a fake fall that is bigger and bolder than the original. You stifle a villainous laugh. You’re sure nobody else will come up with anything quite so brilliant.
Unfortunately, if a Snowflake attends a school that is compromised of a majority of performing arts majors — such as, say, mine — the competition is stiff. A fake fall is nice, but does it really hold a candle to a pirouette across the stage, a shimmy, a crabwalk, or a high C? You never do find out if you won the attention contest, because — surprise, surprise — nobody in the audience is keeping score but you. Instead, they are stifling yawns, shifting uncomfortably in their seats as each graduate tries harder and harder to top the last. Some of the audience is laughing, but not for the reasons you want. The prolonged appearances onstage cause the ceremony to drag a full hour past its scheduled end time, and then another, and then another.
Some of us have brunch reservations, okay?
There’s no way to this without sounding like a curmudgeon, but please, don’t try to be cute at commencement. I know it’s your special day. I know someone is probably filming this for posterity and also YouTube. I know Mom and Dad and Grandma and Uncle Joe are here to watch you have your big moment. But I can promise you, they don’t want to watch you moonwalk across the stage either. They’re bored. They want to get out of that stuffy auditorium.
We all like attention, but save your classmates the trauma of explaining to their families after the ceremony why thousands of dollars of debt went into an institution that churns out “young adults” who act like they’re in a kindergarten classroom. Use your real life — you know, the one that starts the second commencement ends — to play the Special Snowflake game to your little heart’s content. Brace yourself, though, because I hear the real world gives out a lot less participation ribbons than you’re used to.
[Image via SomeECards]