I found my son’s HS graduation underwhelming. Maybe there was cheating.

Alexei Sorokin
5 min readJun 1

I’m not a cynical person, and there is no gloominess in my character. Well, it’s a strange mix. I’m a very happy ever-optimistic introvert, on the one hand. On the other hand, when I come across weddings (as one example), whether in real life or on social media, I often think: these vows, these celebrations, are all for nothing. You’re all happy now, but there will probably be no “till death do us part.” Instead, there will be a divorce. I’ve been with my wife for almost twenty-five years, by the way, and have been very happy in my relationship, so I can’t explain where I sometimes get this dark attitude. That said, I can be sentimental too — watching my four kids grow up, for example, or just in general appreciating the incredible intensity of life, both the moments of joy and the struggles.

Anyway, today, I attended my oldest son’s high school graduation and we then had a nice dinner with his couple of closest friends and their parents. It was a good day. However, watching the actual graduation, I felt untouched. Then my sentiment became even darker — there were a handful of speeches by the graduating students and guests. Eloquent — yes; they were fine. Certainly better than my public speaking skills. But they were full of cheesy cliches and high-flying statements about something supposedly epic that either happened, is happening right now, or will happen in the future. “Shut up,” the dark voice inside me was responding to these speeches. There is nothing that epic about four years at high school. You study, maybe you do some sports, have fun with friends. But perseverance? Sacrifice? Resilience? Uncertainty? Dreams? You-tried-to-do-it-all-on-a-few-hours-of-sleep-and-you-succeeded-and-it’s-all-so-cute-epic-and-by-the-way — don’t-forget-that-your-amazing-parents-sacrificed-too-by-getting-you-out-of-bed-on-some-mornings? Coming from eighteen-year-olds? Just shut up already. How do you come up with all this elevated bullshit? Did you ask ChatGPT to write something inspiring? “Artificial” intelligence, truly.

I’m not trying to undermine all commencement speeches. I’ve been part of quite a few while attending very prestigious institutions. There were fine for the most part, though I do tend to be a bit dismissive of unneeded pep talks. I am talking specifically about the high school ceremony. It’s ok to celebrate four years of high school, but can’t it be done in simpler and more natural ways? A single short speech by the principal, distribute the…

Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. More here: https://linktr.ee/alexei.sorokin