At the end of June I had the honor of attending my friend’s daughter’s Grade 12 Graduation, I love that I was able to capture the classic picture of grads tossing the very pointy caps.
It is thrilling to see all the grads dressed in their carefully chosen gowns and suits, as they walked the center aisle being introduced and hearing what their plans were going forward. I’ve known a large percentage of those grads since they were in pre-school, when what they wanted to be when they grew up were things like: a snake charmer & Wendy from Peter Pan to last week hearing about scholarships and awards as they go onto studying to become Engineers, Business Admin, Doctors etc.
The keynote speaker at the event posed the question from an educator’s standpoint and one that parents may ponder, worry and wonder about.
“Did we do enough to prepare them for life after high school?”
I’ve got one year left before my eldest tosses her cap, and when he asked that question I breathed a sigh of relief thinking.. “Geesh, I don’t know if I’ve done enough to prepare her; good thing I have another year to fill in the blanks…“
He spoke about how the high school years are the ones where there is the most freedom in one’s life. He was right.
I agree that it truly was and is…
A time when you get to explore, expand, experiment and return safely to home base.
A time when you can be wildly creative about what your future looks like; to embrace all the possibilities of what your future feels like.
A time when you can Do, Be, Create, then change your mind … Rinse & Repeat if things don’t fit.
A time when you are fearless about changing your mind, and fearless about changing your life.
With all those good vibrations, the valedictorian also made a true and valid point. That they will no longer see each other on the bus, in the hallways, in classrooms, at events etc. the consistency of their ecosystem, that they have known for the last 3 to 14 years changed entirely, as quickly as right after that banquet.
Completing high school is a major life experience. It is a major life change (no matter what your plans are). And with that can come a feeling of loss and feeling lost.
For as much as a person gains with graduating high school, the transition from all that has been for 18 years can be a challenging time.
It is a time of a letting go of what is and was familiar in order to embrace all the new to come.
There will be those who can’t get to the future fast enough.
There will be those who will want to delay the future as long as possible.
[For both students and parents alike]
Parents may be facing a empty nest, as their student moves away; yet they can both share a sense of a loss of identity, change in their connection with the community and loss of normalcy. Regardless of the similarities, not everyone experiences grief during this change, because everyone’s relationship to this change is unique.
It is a time of magnificent transformation for both sides. Be Gentle with yourself.