Back Garden Graduation

By Char Shields - August 28, 2020


COVID-19 and 2020 have taken a lot from me. Everything about this year makes me want to scream. In January, I had very high hopes: 2020 was going to be my year. I'm sure others thought the same and now look at us.

Gigs and festivals have been cancelled, as have family gatherings. Pubs and clubs had been shut and the UK was locked down. But what's hit me the hardest is losing my last months of university, my degree show and, most importantly, my graduation ceremony.

When I first found out that my degree show was cancelled, I felt hopeless. That was a chance to dress up smart and show off my writing I've been working hard on. And I knew what was coming next: my graduation ceremony. This has hit me hard because it was my one chance of normality after years of missing out. You see, I didn't go to my school prom, or even my last day of school. And there were no proms or anything when I finished college. So this was it, my big celebration after years of hard work and suffering. Gone.

Poor mental health has taken my teenage years away from me, including my school years which are apparently supposed to be the best of your life (if that's true then boy am I in trouble). I hated school. In fact, that's an understatement. I feared it, it made me feel sick, it made me want to throw myself off a very tall building. I counted down the days until I could leave.

Most of my classmates hated me, most of my teachers thought I was lazy. I was thrown in detention and isolation all the time for missing school or having an unnatural hair colour (dun dun dun!) Whilst my classmates were at school learning and getting good grades, I was laying in bed wishing I was dead. Whilst everyone was celebrating their last day of school, I was laying in bed wishing I was dead. Whilst everyone was enjoying their prom, I was... well, you get the point by now.

This is all starting to sound very "woe is me" which I hate. I don't like sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I'm not the only one to go through a traumatic school experience and, hey, I made it out alive, didn't I?

My point is, I never experienced all that "normal" stuff, which feels like such a small problem to have. However, I really feel like I've missed out. Although, if I could go back in time, I probably wouldn't go to prom still because I likely wouldn't have enjoyed it. I just would have liked the chance to make up for it with university but then boom, 2020 comes along with all its awfulness and ruins everything.

And I realise that I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm still alive and I haven't lost anyone close to me to COVID-19. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly thankful for that. I understand that wanting to dress up in a funny hat and gown to receive a piece of paper is such a small issue. But losing that chance is something that's really brought me down.

However, I decided to make the best of a bad situation by throwing a back garden graduation party with my family in Cornwall. Even though it ended up raining, we still had a lot of fun. It was a great excuse to dress up nice and have some drinks. We toasted to my graduation and had my sister pass me my degree certificate for photographs. I even had my graduation photo taken with my beloved dogs, what could be better?

In the end, not all is lost. I still got my graduation, even if it was smaller (which was probably better for my anxiety) and I'm thankful for my family being a part of it. I'm proud of my achievements, for finishing university with a 2:1 despite my struggles with my mental health. Hopefully, I will get my proper graduation in Spring next year, but I won't hold my breath. If this year has taught me anything, is to never hold my breath.


Until the next time,

Char.

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2 comments

  1. Well done Char - well deserved. And remember ' this too will pass'.

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