I feel compelled to send a message to ALL of you today. In my years of education I have seen many triumphs and I’ve also been witness to tragedy. I’ve felt the utopia of game-winning buzzer-beaters, but I’ve also felt the emptiness that accompanies student depression and some cases death.
Between the utopias and dystopias exists a world of ups and downs. You have moments when you feel like everything is going right, but in the blink of an eye those moments are turned upside down. You feel pressure from the world around you. Expectations are showered upon you by your parents, teachers, friends, and society in general. You try to put up an umbrella, but ultimately, it’s just too much. These showered expectations center around a common theme of conformity, and you work tirelessly to fit the mold.
Some of you do better at it than others. Some of you are “popular,” and have a loving family of support at home. You have a security net that you can fall back on that will pick you up and dust you off in times of trouble. Others of you would love to be considered “popular.” You don’t have a security net. Maybe your security net is school. Maybe you feel alone at school, but it’s the one place where you feel safe and can always get a meal. The reality is; your worlds are different, and often you would never know it when you look at each other.
And the world can definitely be scary at times, but remember this as you navigate through it; you have been placed in it for a reason. This reason is not necessarily “to fit the mold.” You were created to contribute. You were given talents that nobody else possesses. You are uniquely you. You don’t have to conform to the mold. You don’t have to be somebody that others perceive or want you to be. You get to be you. You are one of one. Nobody in this world is like you. Don’t be afraid to break the mold and create your own masterpiece.
I’ve visited with many students whom have reached a point in which they no longer want to exist. I’ve heard their stories and listened to their hardships. I’ve spoken with students that have tried to end their lives, and unfortunately, I’ve spoken to students that have eventually done just that.
Let me tell you ALL this. YOU MATTER. If your lives were worth giving, then they are certainly worth living. I challenge all of you to stop trying to fit the mold, and instead mold yourselves into the awesome person you were meant to be. You may not know it, but you mean the world to many people. People you don’t even know exist look up to you. Walk the hallways with confidence and help others do the same. You will find that by helping others (even if you need it more) you will ultimately help yourself.
When life gets you to your lowest point, find your talent and live out your passion. Every single one of you has a passion. Don’t ignore it, no matter what it is. Pour your heart and soul into it. Throw your worries away and dive into you. Dive into your passion. My passion was basketball and even though I’m not playing for the Chicago Bulls right now, it has lead me to be the person I am today. That passion you pursue today will help manifest your life tomorrow. You have the gifts to make the world a better place. Take some time to celebrate you even if you are the only one that shows up to the party.
Your life will be filled with triumphs and tribulations. You may never hit a buzzer-beater to win a game, but life is indeed, your game to win. Just remember that you are one of one and you have been given the gifts to do just that.
Travis Jordan (@Supt_Jordan)
Superintendent, Beulah Public School District #27