Graduation Speech

1120 words - 4 pages

Students, faculty, family, friends, on this exciting day, I speak to optimism, laughter, and grins.

As I was gathering input for this graduation speech, several people suggested including a profound quote offering “encouraging advice to the young graduates”, and then there were others who said, “eh don’t worry about it, no one listens to those anyway.” Fortunately, I was actually able to take from both suggestions and found a happy balance.

You see, I won’t tell you today to: “Dare to dream” or “Find your own vision” or even to “Strive for excellence,” or any trite cliché that’s ever been said in a graduation speech. So this might not be your typical commencement. I have no list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for you. I don’t have any funny stories about politicians or teachers. I don’t have any jokes, nor do I have any interesting quotes from real famous people. And so you may be wondering. Why?

Because there are only a few times in life where you can really have time to sit, relax, and at least pretend to be interested in another kid’s advice on what works for them. This is one of those times where I get to fill you in on what has kept me going, trusting that you can relate.

First, in attempt to take the advice to include a symbolic quote, it became quite clear that no matter what, life is an endless stream of contradictions and inconsistencies. You see, they tell us that “haste makes waste,” but then, “the early bird gets the worm.” And “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can get done today,” but we’re supposed to “stop and smell the roses”? When do we have time to smell the roses when we’re busy doing everything today? And how do you “shoot for the moon” when you are being told to “wish upon a star”?

I mean come on. Any magazine you open has got “how to trim your tummy in 10 days” and on the next page “the ultimate brownie recipe ever”. And we’ve all heard our parents say “we trust you” followed by a “be home by 12 o clock”.

Life is one big contradiction and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to figure it out. So don’t. Embrace it. Laugh at it a bit. Whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously. Those are some of the ways I have made it through these past four years at McNeil.

You see, the biggest contradiction I have noticed so far is the stress that is put on the big things in life when it is really all the little things scattered in between when I find I’m most happy. It’s those seemingly insignificant, random pieces of time that have kept me going throughout the crazies thrown at us as and they keep me laughing, smiling, and moving on. Whether it’s playing Halo and focusing on getting that next running riot, chatting and profile-snooping on AIM, or hearing a pointless story told from a friend--it’s those little moments of carefree smiling that I feel get overlooked.

With AP classes, national honor this, mu alpha that, drum practice here, yearbook deadline there, flag twirling up, singing voices coming down, and...

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