In two days time I officially graduate university with a 2.1 in English. Throughout my very gruelling final year, my focus and drive was set to this day, Graduation Day. I was working long soul destroying days with the goal of being able to dress up in a ridiculous robe, walk on a stage for 30 seconds, receive a certificate which certifies what I’ve already known since early June, that I am in fact graduating with a 2.1. During stress filled days and constant worry that I would not make it through, or at some point I would slip up and fail a module, all I could envisage was how fantastic I would feel on the day we officially graduate, how proud I would be of my achievement, how proud my parents would be. But now that its two days away, I’m not so much excited but rather dreading the whole experience. There are various factors to this dread that I feel.
Firstly I think my mother’s inability to not stress about travel and organisation of my friends and family is making me stress instead of being excited.
Secondly, I am dreading walking up on a stage in front of all the school of arts students and their families, not only am I bound to trip, there is going to be that awkward moment when the fancy official guy puts out his right hand to shake. What do I do? Do I walk up to him with my left hand out ready, with the hope that he will quickly switch? Do I in the last minute counteract his right hand with my left and hope he isn’t stubborn and changes his shaking hand? (You’d be surprised how many people refuse to switch their shaking hands on a matter of principle. If you are one of those people, next time someone extends their left hand, think about how maybe there is a reason for doing so, as many lefties will still shake with their right hand). Or finally do I do the awkward backward left hand to right hand shake so that everyone watching can wonder why I have given an awkward handshake? This is clearly a small thing, but it is always an awkward situation regardless of whether there are a few hundred people watching you or not.
Finally, my mixed feeling about graduation comes down to the fact that I feel, in part, graduating with a 2.1 is a bit of an anti-climax. Nearly everyone I made friends with at university is graduating with a 2.1, and after working so hard, I hoped I could get my grade up to a first. But every piece of coursework that came back as a B broke my heart a little bit more, each time, the first was getting further and further out of my reach. Don’t get me wrong, I know a 2.1 is fantastic, and in fact when I first came to uni a 2.1 was the dream. After watching my sister struggle with university and not manage to complete her degree, I was convinced that I would probably fail, never mind achieve a 2.1, because my sister was always the smarter, more academic sibling. Once I was at University and doing pretty well, I began to aspire for a first, especially when my boyfriend achieved a first at the end of my second year. I started to imagine how amazing it would feel if I could get one too, and maybe, for the first time in my life I could finally reach that top grade. I let myself get my hopes up and I yet again let myself down. I have always strived for excellence and done everything to the best of my ability, however, whether it be because of my disability in physical or creative activities, or my academic achievements, I always feel like I fall a little bit short of the finishing line.
This may sound incredibly whiny considering many people don’t manage to graduate, or achieve a lower grade, but when you truly work hard and apply yourself for something that you want with all your heart and you don’t quite make it, it is heart breaking. I am sure that many people often feel this way, not just myself, but because its complaining nature, lots of people don’t express their disappointment. I can’t help how I feel, and I may feel differently tomorrow or next week. If I don’t feel differently, I won’t hold it on my shoulders, and complain that if I’d only achieved a first I would have a higher paid job or whatever. Not getting what you want is a part of life, how you deal with it, how you pick yourself up and make the disappointment into a positive defines who you are, what you are capable of, it makes you stronger. Just by writing this blog, by writing my feelings down, feel more excited about graduating. I may not have the grade I wanted, but I am going to use my education to get a job that I enjoy, that I love. Finding a career that excites me, having the education and skills to pursue that job was my primary reason for doing my degree, and despite my feelings of under-achievement, I have never given up, and I will always pick myself up, brush myself off and continue to strive for excellence, for I am fairly certain one day I will achieve it.