The Meaning Behind “Commencement”


Call me naive, but all 21 years of my young life I have gone along hearing the word “commencement” but not exactly knowing what it meant. From 5th grade commencement, to middle school, to CCD confirmation, to high school, and finally college; I have always believed commencement meant an award, I thought it meant proof that you did something right.

Your commencement events may seem like a heartbreaking goodbye; but I encourage you to turn that frown upside down. There should be happiness when you hear this word. The true meaning of “commencement” given by Webster’s Dictionary is the time when something begins.

Being a senior who is about to graduate, I feel like something in me is dying. It might be the party girl. It might be the one working part time jobs and goofing around the whole time. It might be the girl that sleeps until noon and rolls out of bed to go to the mountain. Maybe it’s the girl that goes back to the ocean and lives with her parents for the summer. Or maybe, just maybe nothing is dying at all.

Every four years it seems like I am making a huge transition in my life. With each transition, I’ve realized I haven’t lost anything I didn’t want to. I have only gained memories, lessons, and experiences that have helped me. If I had truly lost something, it’s because I didn’t need that thing in my life anymore.

Though post-grad life is the first real step towards transitioning into adulthood, it doesn’t mean all the fun is over. Kiss the days of struggling for money goodbye… while you’re at it say goodbye to those all-nighters you had to spend because you weren’t able to do your homework at your part time job you made hardly any money at. Say goodbye to dealing with boys that act like five years old because “hitting it and quitting it”, is better than finding a girl that will truly love you. You will be able to look forward to weekends, because waking up at 5 a.m. hungover and going to a real job isn’t something you’ll be doing on the weekdays. Adventures will become realistic, because now you actually have money, and your friends have moved to places you’ve always dreamed of going to (and those visits to see your friends will be that much more stimulating). You can finally give back to your parents, after years and years of taking from them (maybe even send them on a vacation!?). Maybe you’ll go out with people you would never had the chance to hangout with in college because it was dominated by cliques.  Maybe, you’ll be happier once you leave college.

Most importantly, you are now the captain of your own ship. It is up to you to decide how you truly want to live your life. Will you influence people, will you become the most successful writer by age 35, will you move to France?

If the future isn’t exciting you, you do not have big enough plans for it; and I encourage you to keep growing your story, thinking of ways to experience as much as possible, as well as finding ways to influence as many people as possible. One last note: turn the graduation frown upside down; this is commencement.

The beginning of something new.


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