Graduation is a monumental step in the life of a young person. For many, it's the first step into adulthood, while for others it is the end of childhood friendships.
For me, it was the former. I remember my high school graduation like it was yesterday, though I am optimistic one day I will forget the moment when I shyly walked onto the stage with my head down and looked up to find myself behind the podium and members of the administration.
They all were staring at me with looks of good humor, since I should have passed in front of them to shake hands, but I couldn't help but realize I had made a blunder just below falling off the stage. Still, I also remember the feeling of walking down the stage after being handed that ceremonial roll of blank paper meant to symbolize my diploma, the real version of which was later handed to us at the end of the night.
I thought, "Thank God that's over."
"That" was not just the night or the dreaded moment of walking on stage in front of hundreds of strangers and a handful of family members, but also high school in general. The homework, the teachers, the rules - it was all over, my young and excited mind thought.
As I watched graduates from Tuloso-Midway High School complete their academic journey on Friday, I could not help but reminisce about my own graduation experience just a little bit.
Moms and dads, much like my own mother did at my graduation, screamed at the top of their lungs, cheering for the son or daughter who had made them so proud. Graduates hugged each other and cried, but laughed at the same time with joy at being able to share the moment with one another.
But it was the words of the valedictorian, Chrissy Crisp, which rang true for me, as I am sure they did for the graduates sitting and listening to her speech Friday. She said: "Today we graduate and tomorrow will be the day after we graduate. Not as exciting, but it will be something new."
And she is right. Life after high school, at first, may not have been as exciting as I expected it to be. I did not go straight to college after high school, but rather into the workplace at a local refinery.
Oddly enough, the same rules applied in regards to being on time and completing work on time. In fact, the rules were more stringent, as they resulted in a financial loss by me being fired rather than a simple warning.
And I will be honest - I have lost more than one job in my young life due to being late to work or screwing up an assignment. Thankfully, the years have been good to me in allowing me to have left such habits in the past.
After graduation, I did not know anyone and lost track of the friends I made in high school. But that may have been a good thing, because it forced me to make new friends, which I eventually did and still have to this day.
Most of them I actually met in college as a staff member for our student newspaper. After three years off and on at the refinery as a laborer, I decided that the industry was just not right for me and enrolled for classes at Del Mar College.
Now, I can say that I have experienced many things since high school in my professional and personal life, both good and bad. But the one thing they all have in common is that they were new experiences.
Any graduate should bear that in mind as they prepare to take that next step into adulthood - life may not always be as exciting as you may have expected it to be, but each day is new and is meant to be enjoyed. So go out and enjoy it.
Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.