In April, I graduated from my third university degree, but it was the first time I ever actually crossed the stage at a graduation ceremony.
I know, I know. That’s the moment you work so hard for, the culmination of all your efforts, the moment to celebrate with your lifelong uni friends. So why would I pass it up not once, but twice?
I studied my undergraduate degree on-campus at a university (I won't name names) where, apart from the odd 'Hi, how are you?', I barely spoke to anyone. This was partly due to the fact that I was struggling with my as-then undiagnosed social anxiety (at the time I just thought I was painfully shy), but also because the university I was studying at was overwhelmingly huge. It was easy to disappear among the crowd, and while I usually liked this, it didn't make it any easier to make friends.
By the time graduation rolled around, I was so ashamed of the fact that I hadn't made any friends at uni, the fact that I had just completed years of study to achieve a degree paled in comparison. I was haunted by the stories my dad used to tell me about the life-long friends he made when he was at university. One of these friends is my godfather.
When I decided to study my honours degree, I chose to cut my losses and study online at a different university. Not only did this give me more flexibility, it would take the pressure off having to make friends because, I reasoned, I wouldn't actually have to meet anyone. But again, when it came time to graduate, I couldn't muster the courage to go to the actual ceremony. I'd never been to a graduation ceremony before, so I had some misguided ideas of what it would actually be like. I was obsessed by the idea that everyone else there would be surrounded by all the great friends they had met during their degree and that everyone would realise I was a Nigel-no-friends because I would be standing alone. I felt pathetic and embarrassed.
Ten years later, having finally completed by postgraduate degree, I made the choice to gown-up and step onto the stage as a USQ graduate.
Even though I was still nervous in the lead up to graduation, I also found myself getting surprisingly excited. And in the end it was a great day. My fears of standing out (alone) were never realised and I didn’t even trip on my way across the stage!
If you're still not really sure whether you want to go to your graduation, I get it, but it really is one of those life moments you should embrace and make the most of! The memories you will have from this day will help you whenever you need a feel-good pick-me-up in the future.
Now that you’re feeling excited, don’t forget to actually register for your graduation ceremony so they can have your cap and gown ready and waiting. And if you’re going to be there, you might as well be all there! Make the most of your big moment with the 10 things to do on your graduation day.