Grad has arrived at my alma matter. Brooks Secondary School. Home of the Thunderbirds. Birthplace of the crispy bangs.
All I could think of during my grad weekend was that it was finally over. Finished. The end. That and how to sneak a watermelon filled with vodka into the after-party.
“School’s out for EVER” – Alice Cooper
My dearest pal (left) has been asked to give this year’s commencement speech. Proving once again the beauty of life before digital records were kept regarding student behaviour while attending high school.
My job as bestie is to help “punch up” her already lovely speech so she looks like a star. Story of my life. I’m a simmering hotbed of historical facts from our school years (see image on the right) where she is, and always has been, out front full jazz hands.
I’ve been floating on the greatness of Maria Bamford’s generous and brilliant commencement speech from the University of Minnesota Fine Arts College. She took something that was horrendous, (the college’s weaselly “we can’t afford to pay you” invitation) crafted it brilliantly into teaching points, and then had more than just one young artist walk away much richer for the experience.
Being educated in ultra rural Canada could be viewed as horrendous. I loaded the front end of my comedy career poking fun at just how awful I decided it was. Better to vilify what you leave behind rather than be accountable for your choices. We all know that move right? Ask anyone going through a divorce.
What we learned before graduation was relatively basic but basic sticks. Many of our best lessons happened before we dove into the puffy dress, babies breath, troublingly bridal pageantry of commencement. All fully applicable to adulting.
- It’s a small town, you’ll get caught. The internet has turned the world into a place of scrutiny not unlike that of a small town. Make good choices. Why not invest in a few pictures of you sitting at a desk. Try sharing images where you’re paying for something or perhaps cashing a paycheque. Not just blurry eyed duck face party pics of the wild and directionless. Try to look at least a little bit jobby once in a while. A future boss is watching.
- Don’t marginalize anyone. Bullying doesn’t end in high school. Grown ups just use words like marginalize and are more stealthy about it. Speaking poorly of others is something that comes from inside you. Looking back, the meanest bullies in school were the ones with the most drama going on at home. That still stands in grown up world. People are mean when they live in fear. The sooner you can recognize that, the better. It makes you see people differently. Most humans are doing the best they can and it isn’t your job to rule that as not enough. If they’re in trouble help them. If they are trouble, distance yourself from them. You be you.
- Pick your town. Geographically, this is a tough decision because of how our town sits. It’s sits nowhere! The leave/don’t leave call is huge. Don’t limit yourself by never, ever leaving or choose “town” and make it remarkable. Me painting my hometown as a nightmare kind of makes me look like an asshole now that I own property there. Be where you’re at. Look around and decide that it’s awesome or go find awesome. Totally your call. Who knew? You’re actually free to leave if you want!
- Regret comes from hesitation. Not making a decision is a decision. I missed so many opportunities because I thought too hard about outcomes before I even tried. Completely on purpose sometimes because if you don’t try, you don’t fail right? Become a failure junkie. It’s the only way. Curiosity kills cats but it also opens doors. It’s worth sacrificing a few stupid cats in my opinion. Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Not learning from failure makes you a failure. Our hair in the 80’s, epic failure, but now we know not to point hot blow dryers at hair spray as it travels towards our heads.
This is getting deep. Didn’t know I had so many feels but it’s still just me. All these years later. Getting off the Lund bus in front of all the cool town kids. It’s hard to shake that stuff and you likely won’t. You can, however, learn to understand what those feelings mean and use them as footing to grapple through life. It gets pretty grappley out here but being from a small town is what the Springsteen’s, the Jewel’s and the Shania’s are made of. If you own it.
From us two old hags, understand this. You’re either living up to or living down who you were in high school. Know who that person was, be kind to their tender hearts, and bring them along with you for the rest of your days.
Commencement means to start. Start.