If you hadn't already guessed by the title of this blog post, or, you know, if not by the copious amount of pictures going up on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (if you're an IRL friend reading this, then chances are you've been exposed to all... sorry), then you may not know that I graduated — on the 11th July at 10.30am. It was already sort of official and real when I received my results this time last month and found out I'd not only passed but achieved a First Class Honours. I should probably also take this time to apologise for however many times that's been mentioned across my nooks and cranies of the internet, and indeed the multiple times it may or may not be reiterated in this post. I can assure you my dad has been wearing it out more than I have. Usually the sentence goes something like, "Could you empty the dishwasher, or is that above someone with a First Class?" He's joking, of course. I just think he likes saying it, which is kind of nice.
It's more than nice, actually. Let's not downplay our achievements, but herald them for all their worth. That's something I've learned throughout my three years at university; the years have not only continued to supplement my knowledge of the world and my desired career path, but also pushed my own growth as a young woman and my awareness of the world I live in. Be proud not only of the people around you (although do that a lot too), but of yourself. Sometimes getting up in the morning is hard, facing another day of horrible and daunting headlines, trying to coax yourself out of a dark, self-destructive mindset. It's hard and we dwell on those parts far more than we do the good. But my graduation ceremony, and the day as a whole, brought the importance of realising mine and my peer's potential right into focus, and so I'd like to drop a few of my thoughts and memories of the day, along with a hell of a lot of pictures. So strap yourselves in, because this is a personal one!
My ceremony was held at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. It's one of the loveliest places in London. I always loved (past tense. sob.) strolling along with the Thames at my side, taking in the street performers, eyeing up the cute boys that work in the Snog frozen yogurt pink bus and the small kick of excitement when spotting a landmark. As much as becoming integrated into the city means you find the lesser known beauty spots, I'll always be head-over-heels for the iconic skyline no matter how touristy that makes me.
It was a pretty chaotic morning, getting up at 7am to begin getting ready, making a quick pit stop at Pret on our short stroll to the venue and chowing down on a bacon sandwich, sat on a bench across from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It was also startling to see the Southbank so quiet, with no long winding queues growing from the edges of where concrete meets the London Eye. No bustling people outside the London Dungeons or the Aquarium either. It was a little surreal, especially as we were dashing along as fast as our heeled feet would take us in our fancy get up. It makes me pine for the years ahead of me hopefully living in London and getting from A to B in rush hour; eating on the go, looking as fierce as anything in a pair of skyscraper heels. I say this... I'll no doubt be swapping out the sound of clicking heels for the sturdy sole of trainers and pretty flats. Turns out you can be a girl boss without towering over men!
Girl boss celebrations seemed to be in an abundance, which was absolutely great. I wasn't prepared for the amount of times I shouted "YES!" throughout the ceremony and clapped so hard my hands had their very own pulse. I didn't really know what to expect from the ceremony itself, if I'm being honest. I imagined it was going to drag. I'd been to one of my sister's graduations five years ago and apart from the rush of pride I had as my sister's name was called out and she walked across the stage, it just felt like a never ending list of names of, predominantly, unfamiliar faces. But my ceremony left me inspired and uplifted — my hard work appreciated, even. There was a buzz of real excitement and pride in our student body and it was none of the quiet, subdued etiquette I expected. People clapped and whooped, shouting out and created a raucous. The ensemble of lecturers and governors appreciated and welcomed our enthusiasm. It truly felt like a celebration of not only the degrees we now held, but the people we had grown into and become.
Two honorary awards were given to Jon Snow and Sandi Toksvig, who both gave inspiring and pretty darn amazing addresses to us. Sandi Toksvig's particularly resonated with me. The fact that she started by talking about how much time we spent listening to self-important men made her an instant favourite, but then she went on to commend and validate our brilliance and urged us to always be passionate in the jobs we did and never settle with our careers or our partners. She ended by telling us to live our dreams always and this was something my mum reiterated in a 'well done' text to me as we sat, proudly, in the same room. Not to mention I did not expect them to announce I had been awarded with a First Class Honours right before they said my name and I made my way, in a haze, across the stage. Nor, later that evening once I was home and my aching feet were free of my wooden shoes, was I ready for my dad to confess he'd found it all quite emotional. For the record, my dad isn't the sort to get teary — he didn't cry, nor did his voice crack when my three sisters got married. So this moment felt important. Commence the photo spam...
We had a yummy late lunch in Giraffe and I opted for a celebratory cocktail, topped with presecco — my drink of choice for the last two years of university. Giraffe's 'Hugo' cocktail is a concoction of presecco, elderflower, soda and mint and I can confirm it was fab! The size of the glass also felt like a testament to blackout student drinking. I'm pretty sure my relationship with presecco will be continuing throughout the next chapter. Something has to get through me all this adulting and the horrible amount of land between me and some of the best people I know, right?