Graduates. It has been almost seventeen years since I walked across the stage at my own high school graduation. Even though the time-gap from then until now seems like an eternity- I know the emotions that each of you has. You are excited. Most likely thrilled. You feel free. You also feel scared, and possibly sad. You have probably both laughed and cried about this event in the past couple of weeks. You are finishing and starting all at the same time.
Most importantly I hope you feel proud. Graduation day is one of those times in life that you can say that all of your hard work has paid off. You put forth effort and your feeling what it is like to be successful. You have had your ups and you have had your downs. You persevered. Don’t forget this word as you journey forward through life. Perseverance (as defined by dictionary.com) is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Soon you are going to realize that homework assignments were not that bad. Taking a final test will seem like nothing. Striking out in wiffle ball and losing it for your team during physical education class will no longer feel devastating. These moments (gigantic as they once seemed), are the tiny seeds that have been planted that will help you grow through life. Toney Dorsett retired pro football player once said, and it applies to life as well as football. He said…
“I’m a strong believer that you practice like you play, little things make big things happen.”
Remember that. Little things make big things happen.
Obstacles and difficulties will find you. Learn from those moments. Failure doesn’t define who you are, its how you respond to it that does. Each and every one of you are talented. Celebrate the good times, and persevere during the difficult times. Believe that failure can be a great thing and then make every effort to instill that belief in your own children someday. Be the generation that begins to shower the world with positives and drawn out the negatives.
Contrary to my beliefs, I did not have all the answers seventeen years ago, and I certainly don’t have all the answers today, but let my final advice to you be this. Remember to love your family. There is nobody that cares for you more than they do. Remember to say “Thank You” to the many people that helped you get to where you are today. Say “Thank You” along your journey through life to all of those that help you to get where you are going. A simple “Thank You” can go much further than you could ever imagine.
Finally, remember there is no limit to your success. Complacency may seem comfortable at times, but you all have the ability to improve our society. Maintaining the status quo is unproductive. What will you contribute to this world? Each of you is equipped with the knowledge, character, and strength to contribute something great.
I leave you with some famous words from Tom Brokaw…
“You are educated. Your certification is in your diploma. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.”
Congratulations to all the soon to be graduates of 2016.