The kilts were ready, the dresses ordered. We had seen many come before us. Smiling students in overpriced gowns, triumphantly cradling their scrolls in front of the loch. Each year, each cohort. I had already decided on an Instagramcaption during a rather unproductive library session, something about lifelong friendships and exciting new chapters.
Instead this chapter was cut short, mid-sentence and without a conclusion. We did not get to say goodbye to four years’ worth of friendships, streets, and memories. Our diplomas are pdf files, our ceremonies zoom meetings.
Yes, there is anger and sadness but also one valuable reminder. Life owes you nothing. We all assumed we wouldfinish fourth year traditionally. We all assumed we would get to worry about the walk up the stage. We all assumed we would get to celebrate once the hard work was finished.
My assumptions led me to rush through my final weeks, focussing on my dissertation and postgrad applications. Instead of rewriting a cover letter twice, I wish I had spent that time walking around the loch. The coffee breaks with friends should not have revolved around stress but memories of hazy Fubar nights and Wetherspoons mornings. Weekends should have taken place in the pub, not in pursuit of a higher grade.
I wish I enjoyed it more, cherished it all. From the walk up Spittal Hill to the lines in front of the library water fountains. While I cannot change that now, I can ensure I will not make the same mistake twice. Life is more fragile than I had ever realised, it deserves to be enjoyed daily, not once dissertations are handed in.
None of this takes away from our accomplishments because dear class of 2020…we did it. We finished our degrees mid pandemic. We spent four years at one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, and we will carry those memories with us for the rest of our lives.
I might not be able to hug you in person and squeal in your ear that I am so proud of us, but I can send you a little love and happiness through these words. I have got a bottle of white chilled in the fridge, a flowy summer dress on and a playlist in the background.
Bring on this zoom graduation, bring on more daily enjoyment, bring on exciting new chapters.