After three years, estimating a total of 1095 days or 26,280 hours, you’ve made it. You’ve proven resilient, despite the challenges that law school threw your way and you’ve now come to the end of the road as an accomplished and exceptional J.D. graduate. Congratulations! However, I am writing this post because you have likely found yourself in a peculiar position. Earlier this year as you embarked on your final semester, perhaps ordered your cap and gown and completed your graduate portraits, it’s unlikely that you foresaw that you would not be able to participate in a traditional graduation ceremony. As you began distributing invites to family members and reserving accommodations for their stay, it probably never struck you that all your efforts would be in vain due to the COVID-19 quarantine that we have found ourselves in for the past two months.
However, now as your graduation date is literally around the corner or maybe even already passed, you are now faced with the inevitability of either participating in a virtual ceremony or simply celebrating on your own. Simply put, this sucks. We’ve come to view the traditional ceremony as a rite of passage, and it just feels strange to not participate in this ritual that you’ve likely looked forward to for the past three years. However, a ritualistic process is all it is. Your J.D. is not conditional on you walking across a stage and receiving a rolled piece of paper that will likely not be your actual diploma. You’ve already achieved it in full. Therefore, to the class of 2020, how about we break with tradition? In lieu of a traditional ceremony, how about you find different ways to celebrate your achievement? The J.D. is already yours for the keeping, so check out these twenty ways you can still celebrate while in quarantine.
1. Get dressed up and take pictures
Although you may be inside, don’t underestimate the power of dressing the part. If you have your graduation cap and gown available, I recommend taking the day or week (no judgment here) to wear the full garb. Wear it as you walk around the house, attend virtual ceremonies or even take the garbage out. It’s your prerogative! Also, set some time aside to take pictures with your quarantined family members and truly immerse yourself in how uplifting those special moments can make you feel.
2. Attend a virtual graduation ceremony
By now, your school may have already put a virtual ceremony together. I know it’s not the same, but it may be powerful to experience the commencement speeches albeit from your couch. If your school doesn’t already have one in place, feel free to jump into this virtual ceremony put together for all 2020 graduates.
3. Have your own social-distancing ceremony
Have your very own social distancing ceremony. Feel free to do this with fellow graduates or family members but just remember to wash your hands, stay six feet apart and cap the party at just ten people.
4. Listen to past commencement speeches
If you need a quick reminder of how great you are and how you can use your degree to make a difference, listen to past commencement speeches online. These speeches may be just what you need to hear to inspire you during this time.
5. Reflect on your law school accomplishments
Don’t limit your law school accomplishment to the necessity of a traditional ceremony. Take some time to think about how much you’ve achieved by simply getting into law school, surviving three very difficult years, and making it to this point.
6. Reflect on past graduations
Ok, yes, a traditional ceremony may be nice, but you’ve already been through several graduation ceremonies. Reflect on those past experiences and allow that to be enough.
7. Write it out
Take out a piece of paper, a notebook or your journal and write about what you’re experiencing. If this makes you happy, frustrated or sad, write it all down. Acknowledge those emotions and give yourself permission to feel them.
8. Prepare a Grad-week schedule
Create a schedule of celebratory events. Whether this may be video calls, virtual parties or any of the activities on this list, put one together and enjoy the feeling of an upcoming event each day.
9. Treat yourself
Treat yourself to something or several things that make you smile. Whether it may be some online retail therapy or even ordering in copious amounts of dessert, go for it!
10. Make post-quarantine plans
Plan a post-quarantine trip or even something as simple as a hangout with friends. We can’t be entirely sure when quarantine will come to an end so feel free to combine this with post-bar plans.
11. Embark on a new project
Get started on a project that you’ve been putting off. Yes, this may be somewhat of a distraction, but a productive distraction nevertheless.
12. Read these books
13. Talk to your mentor
Give your mentor a call and talk through this experience. If your mentor is an attorney, they may be helpful with putting things into perspective.
14. Have a virtual call with fellow grads
Call up your fellow graduating friends and take some time to just chat, laugh, or even attend a virtual ceremony together.
15. Talk to your therapist
This difficult time has undeniably been amplified by this peculiar situation. Talk through those feels with your therapist.
16. Still have a post-grad celebration
Don’t let being stuck inside stop you from putting together a delicious post-grad meal and a full celebration with quarantined family.
17. Watch these movies
18. Be obnoxious because you deserve to!
Literally anything goes! Even a blown up photo of you for your front yard
19. Go for a drive and clear your mind
20. Remember that a ritual does not define your accomplishments
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