A Conversation in a Sea of Blue


Photo by Rainiel Angelyn Figueroa/THE FLAME

WHILE MY mother and my aunt were busy styling my hair and fixing my makeup a few hours before the solemn investiture, I was staring at my reflection on the hotel mirror. Even while my mother was yet to put an absurd amount of makeup on my face, there was something different about the one I saw on the mirror’s surface yet I was not quite sure what it was.

Our room had lights that emitted an orange glow which was not the ideal lighting for styling—something my two stylists had openly complained about. In their haste, they did not seem to notice my lack of attention towards the entire conversation. I did not really process their words as I was too distracted by the thought of what the day entailed: graduation.

For four years, this was what I had been praying for. During nights devoid of sleep for the sake of finishing seemingly unending barrages of school works, the thought of turning the tassel on my graduation cap kept me going. It was the light at the end of the dark tunnel that I kept pursuing despite all odds. Yet, now that it was here right within my grasp, I could not help but think to myself, “What now?”

The thought weighed heavily on my mind as I glided through everything that happened before me. It lingered with every step I took towards the St. Raymund de Peñafort building as I held my graduation toga, blue hood, and cap in my arms. It persisted as I went into the holding room I was assigned to and saw the faces of my peers bearing the widest of smiles. It continued even as the procession towards the Quadricentennial Pavilion began. 

Eventually, I found myself sitting down on the chair assigned to me as the ceremony began. Being the second person whose name would be called when going up the stage meant that I sat directly behind professors from the different programs of the Faculty of Arts and Letters. They all wore their respective garments that brandished their highest educational attainment. It made me wonder whether they felt the way I did when they were in my place. Was their pursuit of graduate studies ever in their plan? Did they have to worry about what kind of job was available for them right after graduation? Did they give themselves the luxury of a break?

I was taken out of my thoughts by the one who sat next to me—the first one to go on stage as her last name is the first on the list of the AB Communication graduates. The ceremony droned on for a while which meant that boredom inevitably fell upon those who waited to be called. It was for this reason that many students began conversing among themselves even as they are not well acquainted with the one they sat next to.

My seatmate asked me a simple question then. “Ano plano mo?

I had been asked that question multiple times by various people and more often than not, I usually gave answers that I did not particularly mean. It was easier to lie and pretend you have a plan instead of having an extensive discussion that usually included unwarranted advice. Yet, this time around, I did not lie. I told her that I was not sure. 

To my surprise, she gave me a reassuring smile before saying that she was in the same boat. In that moment, it dawned on me that I was not alone in the existential crisis that the glamor of graduation brought with it. It was strangely comforting. Of course, this was not a case of complacency. Rather, it felt like I was receiving a bastion of support from strangers going through the same things as you come to root for each other in whatever you come to choose.

After our short conversation, I directed my attention towards the entire crowd. Students were still silently talking among themselves, taking pictures, and basking in the ambience of the solemn investiture. We all knew that it was the last time we would all be together within the walls of the university. Still, I found myself smiling at the thought that we were all headed for a future brimming with all sorts of possibilities.

Soon enough, it was our turn to head up towards the stage. Right as we were told to stand in line, I caught a glimpse of myself on the glass of the technical booth while walking. Wearing the entire ensemble of the graduation outfit made me look much more dignified. However, I realized it was not my overall appearance that made me feel more different earlier. It was my eyes—they were filled with hope. F

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