Yesterday was my graduation (along with the other Humanities and Social Science seniors) and with 800 of us in attendance, it took the better part of three hours (and that's without the mass). Saturday's graduatees took an extra hour longer.
Apparently, it pays to practice for graduation (but when you have a batch as large as ours, you do need to devote a significant amount of time to have a "real" practice, and unfortunately that was not something we really had) because ours had a lot of... mishaps and mistakes. I mean there were errors in the giving of awards, some students didn't bow, and some nearly didn't get called (the last five students of Humanities didn't get called because they thought that it was the end of the page already but fortunately, word quickly got word to them so the awarding of the Social Sciences was interrupted by the last-minute addendum for the last five graduates of Humanities). Not that all these mistakes lessened the feel of the entire event. Nearly everyone was celebrating once we graduated; there were tears, hugs, and cheers, and of course, lots of photographs. My feet were killing me the entire time, especially considering I still had to commute home (and had to find Elbert whom I entrusted my bag to).
It was an exercise of willpower on my part because I didn't want my parents to be at my graduation. And as I told people I have lots of reasons for doing so.
1) It's my sisters graduation as well and unlike me, she still looks up to my parents. It would matter a lot if both of them would be there for her graduation.
2) It's not worth the hassle. Dad, for example, would complain about the parking (in addition to getting lost at campus). On my part, I'd still have to look for them before my graduation and after the graduation, amidst the crowd of 800 families. It's really not convenient for either me or my parents.
3) I want this to be my graduation. I mean they've been to my grade school and high school graduation, dictating what school I went during those times and how I should live my life (and my mom being who she is, bragging about the accomplishments of her son so that she can look better in the eyes of her social circle more than sheer pride in me [which is also why I seldom tell her any of my accomplishments, because they'll only end up as gossip]). As much as I owe something to my parents, I also owe something to myself.
4) I'm sorry but my entire family is stubborn (myself included). This also makes driving a point difficult (especially my father who really doesn't listen to reason [and doesn't make an attempt to reason at that], while my mother believing only what she wants to believe [but unlike my dad has feeble attempts at reasoning, sometimes even using deceit]) and one can think of this as me training them for further disappointments. Honestly, there's a lot of things I still have to contend with my parents (such as me not being allowed to marry a non-Chinese female), and this is just the skirmish in a series of future battles.
5) It's also proof for my parents that I can commute to and fro without depending on a car, and that I do things differently from what my family expects or from the norms of people.
As usual, there's inner turmoil in me. A big chunk of it is due to loneliness. Yes, there are people who do care about me. But honestly, sometimes, it's not the people you expect or want. And this can be a bad thing because even if they care for you, they can't relate to you and vice versa. It's also different to fraternize with someone who's your peer or who shares the same interests as you, as with someone else. I've been fighting for acceptance my whole life and graduating hasn't changed that. There are many people who tell me "but you have friends that you can talk to" but don't offer to be your friend. Or if they do, it's as I said, someone you don't expect or really want (yes, I do befriend these people, but the kind of relationship you can have with them is more limited compared to the ones you can have with your peers or someone sharing the same interests as you).
Another point for internal conflict is my nonexistent love life (and yes, people tell me the time will come when it will come). On one hand, I still have feelings for the girl I've been chasing for the past four years (let me rephrase that... I had no chance with the girl in the first place [she doesn't like me, etc.]... what I've been chasing for the past four years is a chance; failure was already expected as the default-- what I've been striving for was a shot at it, not the final success). And some people know that the deepest despair one can experience is those tinged with the occassional hope. On the other hand, there's this other girl I like and at the moment (i.e. past year), seems to accept me. In the end, it comes to a decision of who I choose to love, which at this moment is something I'm not 100% certain (and in the end, only I can arrive at this decision). It really doesn't help that the two probable crushes are friends (which seems to be the pattern yet makes perfect sense, since like-minded people are drawn to similar people). I mean I had a crush on Rin five years back, and then when I finally got over her (I'm not as foolish as to "replace" love interests since that's not only doing harm to me but to the other person as well... which is why I don't believe in flings or as Jobert put it, "trophy girlfriends". Of course it takes huge willpower on my part to decline, and people do know that the most moral choice is seldom the easiest choice to make.), I meet her best friend...
Job security comes at a distant last, because honestly, there are people who are in a far worse situation than I am. The worst thing that can happen to me is not to have money to fund my hobbies. At least I won't starve, at least I have a roof on my head. (But job offers are always welcome, and I do need the cash.)