Friday, July 21, 2023

Proud day for graduating students

 self esteem.jpeg

All across this area, proud parents have putting on their best dresses and suits to see their kids walk across the stage and graduate from university.

Many will have been doing so in a state of mystery, as their sons and daughters are the first in their family to graduate. They won’t know what to do, where to clap, or what to compare it to.

I was that kid many years ago, as I was the first member of my family to go to university.

But I’ve also been the proud parent watching two of my lads graduate, and I’ve also had the strange honour of sitting with the kids when I graduated as a 55 year old with my Masters degree.

The degree ceremony is a brilliant occasion. When I worked at Manchester Met I sat in on a few ceremonies and looked after the special guest motivational speaker. 

They have a really important job to do. I got asked to do it at the University of Central Lancashire in 2021, when they gave me an honorary degree. 

I talked about journalism and my own life, hopefully telling the graduates a few stories they’ll remember. The main one was just don’t be a dick, and look after people you meet on life’s crazy journey.

The previous day’s class of 2012 got Peter Hook from New Order and Joy Division. I genuinely don’t know what he said, but I’m sure it wasn’t that.

I was thinking about that day again this week even though I’m not involved in any ceremonies this year, as a student, parent or staff member.

One of our show’s favourites, Rebecca Lucy Taylor, better known by her stage name Self Esteem, was made an honorary Doctor of Music at the University of Sheffield on Monday (17 July 2023).

Frankly, she could have delivered large chunks of her breakthrough hit I Do this All the Time, notably the line, "Prioritise Pleasure", and brought down the house. 

But given the large numbers of Greater Manchester kids who study in Sheffield, I’m sure a few Tameside Reporter and Glossop Chronicle readers were there.

I’ve watched the whole thing on YouTube and she’s fantastic. Addressing head on the siren voice of self doubt and to comment from her experience on how women are often positioned in music, despite the supposed advancements of feminism. 

She said: “So I started my solo project, Self Esteem, which at the time I thought was just a cool artist name. But over the last seven years it has been exactly what standing up for myself, staying true to my vision and never compromising has given me every time I wasn't quiet just to keep the peace.

“Every time I said no, when I really meant no. Every time I didn't let a sound engineer assume I wouldn't be playing the drum kit, every time I let my emotions show.

“Every time a bloke on line attacked my appearance and I accepted that he is just a product of his lived experience and to reply would be futile.

“Every time I surround myself with people who accept me for exactly who I am, every time I've been brave, when I proudly exist in my skin, when I respect myself, when I remember there is simply not enough time left to doubt myself. It's completely pointless to ever think I'm anything other than the absolute tits.”

So don’t let some Oxford educated weasel tell you that your achievement is low grade, because we’re in a world that measures everything by monetary value and assumes university isn’t the right road for other people’s children.

Go Becky!

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