I’m sure you’ve all seen the Facebook “thing” going around asking folks to post their Senior pictures to show support for the kids who are going to miss out on prom, and graduation, etc. this Spring due to the virus lock down. I’m sure many of you have also seen some posts questioning why sharing your senior pics is supposed to be supporting a group who may not ever get to have one, and it’s hard for me to argue with that. But, far be it for me to tell anyone what they should enjoy doing ever, let alone right now.
But, I want to talk to the graduates, as someone who didn’t have senior pictures taken, and didn’t go to prom.
Now, my reasons for having none of those things are very different than yours. I chose that path, because well, I was a teenager who had grown up abused and with un-diagnosed depression who also happened to move to a new state half way through high school and had very few friends.
In short, and to be blunt, I didn’t give a shit.
You probably do. You are missing out on stuff you actually want to experience, and that sucks. I am sorry. You’re allowed to be angry about that. You’re allowed to grieve over it. You probably worked your ass off to get that diploma, or that college degree, and you’re not going to get that moment to share that with your friends and family, walking across the stage to get it. I see you, I see your work, and you should be proud anyway, And again, I see that it sucks, and it’s not even close to fair for you.
Now, I could put on my old man hat and tell you why it you need to suck it up, but I won’t do that. Instead, I want to put on my “no longer depressed and looking back at the choices I made” hat, and talk about what I regret and what I don’t.
I regret not being healthy enough to enjoy and interact with the people I knew when I was younger. I don’t regret that I am one of the “seniors not pictured” in a yearbook I also don’t own, because even if I was in it, I’d pull it out once every ten years, maybe. I regret that I don’t have enough pictures of the small groups of friends I had then, that I don’t get to see them again that way, or have photos that spark memories of fun times and youthful misadventures. You, literally, walk around with a camera all day long. Stop taking selfies (j/k) and take more photos of your friends, and the things you do together. Celebrate the time you have together, especially after not being able to during these months. Even if they aren’t “insta-worthy”, they are your memories, and as good as a senior portrait can look, and as important as they are, those are the photos you’ll pull out and smile to yourself about.
I don’t have many of those. You do, and you can keep taking more.
Those prom pictures you won’t get to take? Throw yourself a prom/grad party when this is all over. Invite your friends, get dressed up, take photos. Rent a limo. Have a blast. You never really needed the official school event for all of that.
That graduation ceremony you’re missing out on? Again, it sucks. You’ve worked hard and you deserve it. I feel badly for you, as do a great many people.
You also missed out on some of the most boring speeches you’ll ever sit through, but I digress. 😉
Again, grieve that loss, but celebrate the work you did to get there and the people who helped get you there. Know that the event, is one of many events you’ll have in life, and almost all of them won’t go as planned either. Relish that. Cherish the people who, years from now, will sit around talking about how you spent your senior year in quarantine instead of going to these events, because in the end, these events are about the shared memory. The people you are graduating with, the family who supported you, the teachers and faculty who helped and taught you, and the time you’ve spent.
Those people are what makes those memories. You will still have stories about your senior year, and those stories will be totally different than anyone else’s, and those people will sit around tables talking about all the stuff you did do, and the memories you made, even if they were all online for right now.
So, if I could wrap this up in graduation speech format, I might have some regrets for the stuff I didn’t do as a teenager, but the things I really regret, are not appreciating the people who were there with me. I didn’t need a prom or a ceremony to do that, I just needed to decide to do it, and I didn’t. Going to prom wouldn’t have changed that.
Don’t make that mistake just because your events are cancelled.
And, congrats. You should be proud. We are proud of you.