Fellow graduates, family, and friends, thank you for bestowing upon me the honor of being the class of 2018’s Mediocritarian.
For so many years I have agonized over projects and exams, only to achieve the purely mediocre score of eighty-three percent. I have physically pried my tired eyes open with my sweaty fingers to keep reading The Red Badge of Courage, tremblingly scratched out vocabulary flash cards of the microbiome, and searched and prayed for a system through which to remember each of the Crusades (I mean, come on, man).
The honor of bearing this title today makes me feel like finally it’s OK to say what I’ve always suspected but have been too deferential to authority to ever express out loud: school assignments are meaningless and a sub-par way to facilitate the learning of life skills.
The pressure society puts on us all is conducive to fictional Type-As like Tracy Flick, Hermione Granger, Rory Gilmore, or Amy Santiago (and can I get a HELL YEAH for another season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, some of the best television that distracted me from studying hard enough to ever score higher than a B-plus!!!).
All Tracy, Hermione, Rory, and Amy taught me is that you can’t succeed unless you punish yourself. They didn’t teach me how to study or be more organized or smart or anything. Just how to be miserable.
So today is the day we say good riddance to the Type-A Straight-A Success Grabbers! Victory for those of us who tried just as hard, achieved comparable self-loathing, but received disproportionate grades and limited success!
All these years of not doing extra credit—not because I didn’t care, but because I cared too much and overthought the assignments until it was too late to actually start doing them—are now validated, knowing I can stand here and be acknowledged for the heartache I suffered as a solid eighty-three-percenter. Never failing, but never succeeding well enough to have a report card hung on the fridge by my parents. Well, friends, this is my refrigerator. And here I hang!
I’m glad I’ve made peace with the notion that I am not failing if I still can’t figure out how to gauge the mass of an object in a beaker (YOU NEVER SAID WE COULD USE WATER, MRS. NIEBUHR!!!). I can’t explain the quadratic equation, no matter how much I scream at myself. And you know what? I just can’t memorize The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, even if my 5th grade teacher’s aide said she’d pay any student who could FIVE DOLLARS!! MY ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD SELF BAWLED NIGHT AFTER NIGHT AT THE LOSS OF SUCH AN ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNITY!!!
I almost feel like I don’t deserve to be the most unremarkable student in this class, but I’m proud enough to take it, and I’ll wear that badge for the rest of my life. I’d like to end this speech with a quote about success, but I’ll butcher it even if I don’t mean to, so, Maestro, POMP AND CIRC’ US OUT!