What proceeds is my speech I wrote for commencement, and while I wasn’t selected to speak, I still wanted to share what I wrote, because I believe it’s important for everyone to hear. With high school graduation in a week (no, it hasn’t hit me yet), I’m counting down the days and learning how to cherish the people around me just a little bit more.
You are bound to fail.
Honestly. If no one in this graduating class fails, I will gladly take my words back. But this class is full of people who are constantly raising the bar. When we continually push ourselves more and more and more, with the weight of the world’s expectations on our back, we have to fail! And, when we do fail, when we carry that sickening test grade or rejection letter with a heavy heart, we are allowed to mope. Give yourself time to reflect. Because out of every failure, comes a new idea.
In the book Think Big, Gil Atkinson asserts, “Form the habit of saying “yes” to a good idea. Then list all the reasons why it will work. There will always be plenty of people to tell you why it won’t work.” Yes, there will be numerous failures, but out of those miniscule failures come success. Take your failures with a grain of salt, and let your failures push you to work even harder. Take what you have that is good and make it great. Every single person in this room has doubted themselves at one point, and look what’s come of it—we have over 450 high school graduates ready to accept their diplomas. You have to believe in yourself, convince yourself that what you have is a fantastic idea. Put that idea to work. Pay no attention to the people who doubt you, who tell you you’re not enough. Expect to be criticized. After I walk off this stage, people will comment that my speech was too long and full of clichés, because it is human nature to criticize. Yet, what is the most important critique? Your own. Listen to your professor and adjust; listen to your parents and adjust, listen to your boss, whoever is your superior, and adjust. But, listen to yourself and grow. Build on your failures.
The most important piece of advice that I have been told to carry near to my heart as I go into college is to stay true to myself. Then why is it that our apparel for graduation are loose-fitting, one-size-fits-all gowns that make us all replicas of each other? Edward Young, an author, once asked the very question that should be asked of all high school graduates: “We are all born originals—why is it so many of us die copies?” You are the only you who exists; while you are unique, you still have to work to become someone. When I was younger, I used to imagine that someone would come into my life like a plot from a movie and change my life forever. It never occurred to me until recently that the person who can change my life is none other than me, myself, and I. Until I make something out of myself, and you make something of yourself, we are still a possibility. We will be “What ifs?” until we become a someone who is.
So, go out into this world and fail. Fail, fail again and take that tiny piece of success that seems like nothing. Push that success into your greatest achievement and take pride in what you’ve accomplished. Take action. As Catherine Ponder wisely asserts in the book Think Big, “It’s amazing how fast doors open to us when we dare to take control.”