Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson.

On Wednesday, I broke down in tears. It wasn’t a particularly difficult day, but it wasn’t an easy one either – my kindergarten children were obstinate, my elementary children were rowdy, and the day was long. But that wasn’t what brought about the emotional breakdown – it was a film, and how that film made me think about my life in a particular way.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this film was the 1967 classic The Graduate. While the main character’s romance with an older lady was undeniably shocking (and must have been even more so at the time), what really struck a chord with me was the protagonist’s fear of the unknown that lay ahead of him in life. For those unfamiliar with the film, it depicts the struggles of a 21-year-old graduate student navigating his first few months out of university. It is a fascinating film, and from the first shot to the last, the protagonist is bemused and afraid about what he will do in the real world as he emerges from the cocoon of university.

This resonated with me, because I have never been entirely certain about what I will end up doing for a career. At various points in my life, I have wanted to be a lawyer, a musician, an economist, a psychologist, and even an archaeologist. However, nothing has been that perfect fit for me quite yet. This is also the case for the protagonist in The Graduate, whose worry pulsates from him throughout the film and all of his decisions therein.

As I watched, I wondered – if a 21-year-old was so worried about life, how much more worried should I be, at 24? This thought weighed heavy in my head for a time after we’d finished watching the film. It all reached an ugly head when I accidentally broke one of the first mugs we had bought for ourselves in Korea. When the ceramic crashed against the floor, my emotional wall was crushed by its weight.

I cried for a good few minutes, before Kris managed to help me realize how silly I was being. Nevertheless, even though yesterday was far worse a day in terms of the students’ behaviour, I was barely fazed by it. Sure, there was a small amount of wishing certain children would not show up for school ever again, and a smidgen of genuine frustration (not shown to the children of course). But there never felt like there was any risk of a meltdown.

And this, dear friends, is the power of film – it can help us see into ourselves, and gaze into aspects of our lives we would otherwise avoid. It may occasionally be painful, but it is always interesting what you see in there.

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