My People, On a Serious Note

Graduation Day

I don’t know what made me think of it. I probably saw a picture of someone else’s graduation and it reminded me that yes, at some point I also did that.

It wasn’t that long ago, really. I completed my Drama studies in 2013 and graduation took place in the middle of 2014.

I don’t remember it for being a particularly profound day. If anything, it was stressful. Heading into the heart of Johannesburg with both my parents wasn’t pleasant. My father was trying to teach my mom how to drive, much to her and my frustration. Parking was difficult to find. The sun was murderously hot. And of course my social anxiety was on fire.

It was a boring event. I suppose that most of them are. We sat there waiting. I was particularly nervous about walking up the steps and tripping.

I got called onto the stage twice. The first time was to receive my certificate. The second time was to receive a trophy for being the top second year drama student. I didn’t fall, but my picture with the principal looks horrid, because I was talking while they took it.

But that doesn’t matter, because I don’t like her.

Afterwards, we had to get into the queue to take family pictures. Once again my father was making a fuss and hurrying us. We took pictures, none of which looked particularly good.

And this is the moment that really stood out…

 

As I walked out of the doors of the massive auditorium, I expected to see a lot of people. When we arrived there was a massive crowd. I wanted to say goodbye and congratulations to all my friends.

But there was no one.

I remember that a great silence fell over the enormous staircase. A fountain was spewing water where less than an hour ago dozens of people were talking and laughing. Birds were singing. It was as though nothing had happened. I felt very alone.

I now look back on that moment realizing that it foreshadowed the rest of my life up to this point.

Things have changed so much in the last two years since that day. I only have one friend that I regularly keep in touch with. The rest of them either left after the friendship breakup, or gradually drifted away. The hardest one to deal with is a friend that I thought would be with me forever. Now she has broken off all contact with me and I honestly don’t even know where she lives anymore.

This was the second last time that such a large group of my fellow students were together. The second time was at my friend Jodie’s funeral. Graduation was the first time I met her mom.

Lately I have been looking into furthering my studies, either by completing my degree in drama at a university or by studying English and Linguistics part time. I am arguably one of the more “successful” drama students ever to graduate from my college. I am one of the few who got a really great agent and I am still actively auditioning and working as a freelance actor. However, I’m not making enough money to get by with the qualification that I have now.

We want to believe that people will be there for us. We want to be able to think that we will maintain the friendships we build during high school and our studies. But we don’t.

And if I’m ever fortunate enough to graduate again, I won’t expect anyone to be waiting for me outside.

 

“Don’t go crying to your mama, because you’re on your own in the real world.” ~ Paramore

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