Regret is often a big part of life for many of us making our way through the journey of adulthood.
That can extend anywhere from relationships to jobs, and I have had more than my fair share of regrets in both categories. But this weekend, another pang of regret struck me while I was attending the graduation ceremony at Banquete High School.
I watched a new group of seniors, most of whom have spent their entire lives as students in the Banquete Independent School District, walk onto the high school football stadium donning their dark green caps and gowns. Many of them wore smiles of elation, others looks of apprehension. But a cavalcade of cheers from proud parents and relatives greeted all of the graduates as they walked towards their seats.
It brought back memories of my own graduation from Tuloso-Midway High School in June 2000. Now, in my opinion, there are two groups of students who prepare for graduation day - those who are genuinely saddened at the idea of leaving behind high school, and those for whom the end could not come fast enough. I fell into the latter category.
I had a small group of people that I hung around with, but very few of them would I have considered to be close friends. In fact, I only kept in touch with one of those people after high school for a short time before losing all contact with that person about a year later when she moved away to continue her education.
My senior year was one of relative laziness on my part. I did very little to prepare myself for life after high school - I didn't apply to colleges, nor did I attempt to secure any of the many scholarships available to students at the time. My plan was to enter the workforce immediately and save up to move out on my own. I'd worry about college later.
That was a big mistake on my part, since I went through a series of jobs during the first few years of my post-high school life, leading to many instances where I found myself in debt and unable to pay the few bills I did have. I was unwise financially, spending whatever money I did manage to save up on frivolous items, like video game systems and new albums from my favorite bands.
Thankfully, I managed to straighten myself out and went back to school to get my Associate's Degree from Del Mar College in communications. I'm still working my way out of the debt I accumulated in my youth, but I am in a significantly better spot than I was a few short years ago.
But on that graduation day 11 years ago, the only thing in my mind was to get the hell out of high school. I fought with my mom at the idea of wearing a tie and slacks beneath a cap and gown that was going to cover my entire outfit. But she won that battle after I realized she had sacrificed much to get me to that point in my life through hard work - surely wearing a tie and slacks wasn't an unreasonable request.
But my regret isn't that I had to wear a tie to my graduation - it's that I don't really remember much from that momentous day in my life. I remember a portion of our salutatorian's fantastic speech when he used a sex education demonstration to describe how difficult it would be for high school friends to part with one another after graduation. In case you were wondering, he used velcro gloves pressed together and pulled part to make his point.
I also remember that in my focus to not fall when walking up the stage, I walked behind the row of administrators that had lined up to congratulate us before we received our diploma. I'm also vaguely aware of a blinding flash of light from my uncle David's camera as I walked back to my seat.
Other than that, not much is there for me to cherish. I may have hated high school in general, but I am somewhat disappointed that I don't recall more from the day I worked 12 years to get to.
If there's one thing I hope the Class of 2011 will take from this column, aside from the fact that saving money is a good thing in the long run, it's that I hope you will take the time to look around and appreciate the memories that come with your graduation. After all, nothing is worse than looking back on a moment you should be proud of, only to realize that particular shelf in your memory is pretty bare.
Tim Olmeda is the Managing Editor for the Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.