Graduation…where dey do dat at?

Melissa Harris-Perry Speaks at Wellesley College Commencement 2012

While I went to my college of communication graduation, I did not attend my university-wide graduation particularly because the speaker was a state congressman who, it seemed, was virtually unknown to nearly all of my classmates. The announcement that said congressman would be the commencement speaker was met with a collective sigh and a collective, subconscious, “Who?”

I have no idea what he said or how he said it. It could have been uniquely profound; it could have changed the lives of my fellow graduates, and it might have better prepared us to deal with the recession we would enter into. I will probably never know. What I do know is I was so happy to be holding my degree I didn’t care what anyone but the Good Lord had to say about where I was going and what I would be doing. Only he knew anyway.

Three years have passed and it’s true. I do miss that syllabus.  Not because of any humble acceptance of ignorance but because in a classroom I was in a situation which would, if properly taken advantage of, allow me to play a starring role in my own self improvement.  By the end of the semester there would be a better, smarter, wiser, and sharper, me.

This fall I will once again be handed a syllabus. Grad school, and the impending debt of 2014, awaits me.  I love learning.  There is absolutely no other, no better way to put it. I am at my best in academia.  This time however it’s a different ball game altogether.  USC Film School is arguably the best film school in the country and that’s what I’m going there to learn, along with television.

But this is not in pursuit of a degree, prestigious though an M.F.A. from USC may be.  This endeavor is not the dream my parents waited 22 years for and my mother didn’t live to see (in this world).  This isn’t the “You know how many people fought and died so you could have an education” education.  Nor is it the “The salary for college grads is ____ % higher than those without” education. This is an endeavor into sharpening.  All my classmates are smart, we all have individual accomplishments, we all have an impressive blade of achievement and performance or we wouldn’t have been accepted. This is a test of just how sharp these blades are and how much sharper they can become.

“Ignorance s not your enemy, only complacency with ignorance is to be resisted.” – Melissa Harris-Perry

I look forward to meeting all of my classmates, learning about their experiences, and starting new relationships that could quite possibly become lifetime friendships. I could find my best man and wife sitting across from me in class or walking across the quad.

What will be the most interesting however is the test of knowledge.  It’s that first question or practice which determines who knows what.  For me, the safest and most prudent coarse of action is to assume everyone knows more than I do. The next choice will probably be the most important one I make during my graduate career because it will set the tone for other choices I make.  Will my ignorance be met with complacency or pro activity?

It’s difficult to humble yourself to someone you consider a peer.  Much easier when the person teaching you something is obviously older and smarter than you. “Of course he or she knows, he or she is old and a professor.”  But for some reason our ego stares into the eyes of a person our own age who talks, dresses, and walks like us and gets flustered. It stares at a person who watches the same movies and television shows we do, can recall pop culture trivia from the same time period we can, and by all accounts should be on our same “level”. And it gets mad.  Pharell Williams of the Neptunes said ego is dangerous because it causes the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows.

I’m encouraging myself and EVERYBODY else to silence that ego, in this case your internal hater. Boys have the hater too.  If your classmate or teammate or coworker knows something you don’t, don’t wait to ask the professor or coach or boss. Ask the person who shocked your ego, sparked your interest, and stimulated your curiosity. Silence the ego! Tell it to STFU and choose to speak in the interest of becoming the sharpest you. In the end this will probably make you a little thicker.

In any occupation or field of study we will be met with red permanent marker. It’s the same marker teachers used to demolish the essays we wrote in high school.  It’s the same marker that said “See Me”, “Re-Do”, and always made us wonder why grades never had an E.  It’s critique, it’s misunderstanding, it’s lack of understanding, it’s “I don’t get it”, it’s “Insufficient support”, it’s “NO!” and it’s scary.  Pursuing anything that costs anything is scary, especially when you don’t know the outcome and wonder if you’re good enough.

We’re told to have thick skin but I don’t care how thick your skin is, when somebody red markers what for you is the piece of yourself you want to share with the world you will get cut and it will hurt.  Even thick skin weathers with time.  Fret not as I have a Marvelous idea.  Be Wolverine.  Granted, adamantium claws are his coolest feature but his ability to heal is a close second.  No matter the injury he regenerates.  This is the skin I’m talking about. This is the skin I want.  Cut all you want to because I’ll just heal myself. Mark that script, that proposal, that budget all you want because it may hurt but I’ll heal and be better for it. I wouldn’t mind my name in a history book either.

This all sounds good, let’s see how it plays out come August.

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