This weekend I had the opportunity to go to not one, but three graduations.
This means listening to not one, but three student speakers at commencements. And they were okay. One was self conscious and used words like ‘facsimile’ and ‘redundancy’ to hide his nerves. Another forgot he was talking to a rather diverse group of his peers and recounted his own experiences in his major. The first was my favorite, and I can’t really remember anything about her, except that she did have an ‘actorly’ quality.
All of it made me think about my own graduation, and I got a bit teary-eyed at points, picturing my own friends and I sitting in the creaky folding chairs, sweating under our mortar boards and half-listening to the college president while we worry about whether we’ll see each other again. And I wondered about what I would say, if I was faced with those people, my peers and their parents. Would I be honest? Verbose? Would I construct a big metaphor to hold the college experience, or would I try to use a series of cliches to make sure we all shared something (haha, remember procrastination?).
Tonight I sent an e-mail to the woman in charge of putting graduation together, asking how she’ll select a student speaker, and bluntly stating that I want the job. I expect her to e-mail me back with something like this:
It’s true you are a normal representative of the student body. You’ve dabbled in activities, you’ve made some bad decisions and a number of good ones that may seem like bad decisions to others. You’ve connected strongly with a small group of people, and are widely accepted by your acquaintances. Your grades aren’t stellar. They aren’t awful. You haven’t attended every class, and you’ve never failed one. You are outrageously normal, Jessica, but here’s the thing, the big secret: we don’t want normal. We want you to be represented by somebody we want you to be. See how it works? We want you to remember college through a smiling, straight A club president, not a reasonable image of who you all really are. It’s all about what you should have been. Remember that.
Hugs and kisses,
I fully expect this response, and I may even be a little disappointed if they write back and say heck yes, we want speech submissions! Send them in! At that point I will have nowhere to direct my righteous indignation, and I will have to start picking on people with poor spelling or something. We’ll see where this goes tomorrow.
In the meantime, I’m going to write my own commencement speech.