To the Class of 2021: Why the Pandemic Gave You an Edge
Editor's note: This speech is free to any school in need. For example, if your commencement speaker falls ill and the janitor agrees to step in, just hand him these words. It's fine. Don't worry about it.
Dear senior class of 2021,
Congratulations on finishing high school in a pandemic. Matriculation? More like ma-TRICK-ulation. Graduate? More like SAD-uate. Scholarship? More like BLAH-lar ... OK, anyway.
This is a momentous occasion, and you should be proud. For untold days on the 2020/21 school calendar, you said, poetically: "Really? Whatever, I guess."
Senior year in America is an apocryphal tale inspired by bad movie sex comedies. You envisioned sharing red Solo cups and screaming at games and singing sappy songs about how tomorrow starts today. Academics would take a back seat to just, you know, hot breathing.
But if school is supposed to prepare you for life, it did an exceptional job in this pandemic. If you were virtual or in-person, if events were canceled, if teachers started each day with garlic and a crucifix, senior year was a personal trainer for the suckfest ahead.
Wait? Suckfest? Graduation speeches are supposed to be pep talks brimming with optimism. Sure! However, as Mama always said, take the edge off your depression by lowering your expectations.
For instance, you will have strange roommates. You might even be married to one or two. But this year upped your patience. You were supposed to be frolicking, riding bikes in the aisles of Walmart at 2 a.m. Instead, you were home, forced to watch "The Masked Singer" with your dad, who kept drinking your Spindrift.
You will say so many things you regret. They will pour out like rainbow Skittles. Get ready to lie in bed after a party and replay conversations, wondering if everyone hates you. Relax. Everyone is doing the same thing. Next time, though, think back to your mask days when you had to conserve communication. Is it worth it to weigh in on what Kendra did? Are you qualified to speak on the Middle East? Proceed slowly and clearly.
Dating will be awkward, and heartbreak lies ahead. But it will not be worse than when you had a family meeting to bring Alex into your COVID-19 bubble, because you were ready to take things to the next level. Nothing will ever be that bad.