What I Would Tell High School Grads

The Daily Post  Blog gives writers a challenge everyday. Today’s resonated with me. The challenge was: You’ve been asked to speak at your high school Alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech. So here goes.

graduationTo the class of J. I. Case High School — Congratulations on your graduation! This is a great day!

I’m here to talk to you about what goes on after you leave these safe walls and go out into the world to build your future.

(In a hushed voice) Listen carefully, this is sage advice. You don’t want to miss it. What I have to say today will change your world.

Are you ready?  Here it is:  Live Your OWN Life to the Fullest

I see those looks. You’re thinking “I have to sit still for this moron? What is she– a commercial for the military service? Let’s grab our diplomas and get to the party!”

I assure you, I am not a moron. I’m just a person who wishes someone had told this important advice when I was your age. You see, I didn’t start living MY LIFE until I was in well into my mid-thirties. Up until that time, I let other people make my decisions and mold me into what they thought I should be instead of fighting for my own life. Isn’t that sad?

I never gave myself a chance to think about what I wanted. I did have a private dream, though. I wanted to sing on Broadway, but I told myself I didn’t have the training to make it. What I did was create an excuse. I had the talent. I just needed the guts. I also needed somebody in my corner whispering, “You can do it!” I talked myself out of my dream. I’m here to tell you not to follow in my footsteps. Take the chance to make your dreams come true while you’re young. THINK about what you want. Visualize you are there already. Eat, sleep, and live your dream before it comes true.

Thank God, I realized another dream before it was too late. I can finally say with confidence, I’M A WRITER. I’m a storyteller. I have had five novels published, and I LOVE my work.

And you can do the same. What you THINK your life will be, it will be. You have the power to create your world. Think negatively, and you will end up in a pool of stuff  you never wanted.  On the flip side, think positively and you will make your dream happen.

You don’t believe me? I’ll bet you’ve done this already. Wasn’t there a time when imagined winning a contest, or getting the lead of the play or starting on the basketball team, and it happened? Or how about the time you wanted to get out of going to school, and you actually got a cold with a fever that would keep you home? You needed a day off, and you knew being truly sick with a temperature was Mom-proof to keep you home, so you willed it to happen, right?

Powerful thoughts bring powerful results.

To achieve success, first you have to “see” yourself being successful. Then, you have to dismiss all the people who tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams. Don’t listen to them. They are wrong. This can be hard because many times these people will be people who are closest to you. Keep your eye on the prize. That is the secret to real success.

If you want to be a professional football player, get a college scholarship. If one doesn’t come your way, walk onto a college campus and ask for a tryout. If you get turned down, ask yourself if you really want this dream. If you do, put the work in. Go to the gym earlier than everyone else. Practice more than anyone else. Next season, ask for another tryout. See yourself in the NFL, the Super Bowl. See yourself wearing that ring.

If you are a singer, picture yourself accepting a Grammy. Picture yourself on tour in front  of thousands of fans or performing on a Broadway stage.  Take lessons. Take a waitress or waiter job in the meantime, but live, sleep, and dream about singing. Become the best singer on the planet. Spend nights in clubs watching other singers. Learn what works. Learn what doesn’t work. Write your own songs. Collaborate with other musicians. Sing at small venues. Do whatever it takes to be heard.

If you are a writer, you must write. Everyday without fail. Write what you want to write; don’t fall into the trap of the latest fad because someone else has already been there and done that. Write from the heart. Write the truth as you know it. Read other writers. Blog. Write short stories, articles and novels just for fun! Create a following. And remember, getting published is an area you must also learn.

If you want to be the next great computer geek, live it. Don’t try to fit in—you never will. I know you’re smart enough to know that already. Bask in your difference, don’t shun it. Your ideas are usually something no one else understands anyway. Find an area of electronic communication, games, or new inventions that fascinate you. Like the athletes, writers, singers and other professionals, shoot for the stars. After all, it will be the next frontier.

As you sit in your cap and gown today, know this is just the beginning of YOUR life. Up until now, your parents have made your decisions. They won’t like it, but it’s time for you to toddle along on your own two feet.  It won’t be comfortable for them to let go or for you to pull away. But the safety net is gone, folks. You must walk the wire of your OWN life from here on out. Take responsibility to live YOUR life – not the life someone else has chosen for you.

If you choose the easy journey of allowing others to choose your path, you will never be happy. You will never discover your talents. You will never know who you truly are.

Some people say the world as we know it is coming to an end. I certainly hope so. The world is constantly changing and YOU have the ability to enrich it or let it pass you by.

You choose!

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7 thoughts on “What I Would Tell High School Grads

  1. I would tell the graduates to have the courage to follow their instincts, to stand up for what they believe in and to walk their own path. The greatest achievers never follow the safe path of others but forge their own. It seems that the most important thing to many young people is being popular and fitting in with the crowd. I would tell them that this is superficial and unless you are being true to yourself you are unlikely to reach your full potential.

  2. Funny, I don’t remember hearing anything that inspirational when I graduated. Maybe I wasn’t listening well enough. Too bad though. I could actually have used this a year before graduation. I don’t think people thought like this then. You said it so well.

    • Thanks so much for your insight. I’m teaching a writing class this summer and have thought about reading this post to them as an early graduation pitch. Think it will inspire?

      ________________________________

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