Today, I graduated. Today, I got to wear a cap and gown, sit, clap a lot, walk across a stage, smile, and sit and clap a lot more. It was ace. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I love everything about it: the tradition, the outfits, the emotions, the clapping, the sitting, the whole lot.
This wasn’t my first graduation ceremony. It followed on from a BA (Hons) in Economics and Politics with European Study (2:1) in 1994, a Foundation Degree in Contemporary Art Practice (Distinction) in 2015 and now a BA (Hons) in Fine Art (1st). I haven’t yet got bored of degree ceremonies. I really hope there will be more to come.
I don’t remember much about the first one. I was very proud of my achievements at that time. I only just managed to get a 2:1 and that was the result of a lot of time spent in Exeter University library (I loved that place). I think I graduated with 61%. It had been close.
The second one, twenty years later, just sort of happened. I was just doing art and decided to do it at Shrewsbury College rather than at home, and ‘they’ decided to reward me for it. For that, I thank them!
I feel very much the same about the third one. I was just doing more art, and ‘they’ seemed to think it was worth giving me a certificate for. Here’s me today with an expression of amused disbelief on my face (either that or ‘hurry up and take the photo’). They seemed to think I was better at fine art than economics and politics, and that made me happy. I agree; I am better at fine art than I am at economics and politics. Why? Because I love it.
However, I’m now a teeny tiny bit addicted to academia and graduating. At the end of the ceremony today I told me dad that he would get a year off before the next one. I’m going to be doing a part-time MA now. Shhhh don’t tell anyone but I secretly would also like to carry on after that and see what a PhD could do for me (and what I could do for it). Learning is hard to give up (and my middle son tells me that he really wants to boast that his mummy is a doctor of fine art). As for myself, the floppy hat is totally ace and I so want to wear it! One of my tutors today admired my dad for his inquisitive mind. I have inherited that mind. It just wants to carry on.
But whatever was achieved today by myself and all of my fellow graduates: all their personal goals whatever they may be, we all did A Good Job. It sounds a bit cliche but it is true: we should all be proud. As one of my fellow graduands (see below) said to me today as we sat waiting for the ceremony to start: ‘I didn’t think I’d be here today, I didn’t think I’d get to university in the first place.’ She was, and she did.
This comic (below) appeared by coincidence on Facebook this evening and this sums up how I feel about today accurately. I believe that if you stop worrying about striving perfection, you will succeed regardless (and possibly despite). It doesn’t matter whether you get to a state of perfection or not. In fact, who wants perfection? It is overrated. Does it even exist? Without achieving perfection, you have achieved Something. You have Followed Your Dreams. That in itself is a sort of perfection: a personal perfection.
I have spent the last five years full of self-doubt. Yet I carried on regardless. I am still full of self-doubt. Yet I will carry on regardless. Perfection is illusive. So what? Do what you love, that’s what I say. Do it for the sake of doing it. Do it for yourself. Perhaps you will be rewarded for it and you may be surprised by that reward as I was. That’s how I feel today. Does that make sense? If not, blame the chateauneuf du pape, which is going down, very, very nicely.
Going off on a slight tangent to end this blog entry, I love the word ‘graduand’ which describes someone about to graduate – how cool and oldy worldy is that? I was a graduant for a short time today. I liked it.