The most accurate way I can describe my resistance to ceremonized graduation is that it made me feel... dirty, as if I were receiving a wildly unearned degree of pomp and circumstance. I felt this way about high school graduation too, but at least that had a fresh-out-of-the-joint sort of catharsis to it. Plus, my high school graduating class was only a couple hundred kids. I'm pretty sure thousands graduate UCSB per year.
Consider than for a moment. How to feel pride about doing something that thousands of others just did to, while they're sitting all around you? I'd find it an utter impossibility, but others clearly don't. It's long seemed to me that the pride felt in an accomplishment is inversely proportional to the number of other people who do it or are able to do it. I've pondered rules of living along the lines of "Don't do anything that as many people as will earn a B.A. this year are doing."
My aversion extends past higher education to other institutions of the same mill-like scale and procedural definition: higher higher education, organizational hierarchies corporate or otherwise, parenthood, marriage, "normal" schedules, what "everyone" does. (PROTIP: Avoid people who make a lot of normative claims about what "everyone" supposedly does or is.) At a certain point, I guess I'm forced to admit that this bespeaks a freakish set of personal preferences — if they weren't freakish, they'd be in alignment with all those prevalent institutions — but, to me, they feel like the only possible conclusions from the available premises.
Then again, academia has always brought out the very worst in me. Whereas I find I can work on projects, and hard, when they're not institutionally driven, setting foot in a school turns me into a foot-dragging, intransigent monster. Even stuff I'd already found fascinating — politics, music, logic, economics, film, literature — often turn into the absolute last thing in the world I want to think about in the context of a class, lectures, assignments, tests and the like.
I'd wondered since practically the beginning of my school days about this — and I'm sure some of my teachers wondered too — but it only recently dawned on me that I wasn't particularly moved to do homework and papers and such because others were already doing it. It wasn't like I was getting them to do my assignments for me; it just seemed like they already had the assignments covered. The world, I subconsciously reasoned, did not need my 29 classmates' five-page compare-and-contrast papers on the symbolism in Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby, all with a maximum audience of one, so it certainly didn't need my 30th. Did it need me to be yet one more B.A. holder? Can it really need me to be yet one more holder of additional degrees, yet one more married person, yet one more parent, yet one more 9-5er, yet one more everyone?