The Pre-Commencement Speech

womanmountainThe past four years of our lives have been a mission of self-discovery. That is the purpose of college, right? To graduate knowing that somehow within the past four years you managed to make friends, earn a college education, and discover yourself. Although unimportant that we made stuff up along the way, we are now expected to know where, what, when, and why. Here is my stab at a necessary pep talk.

With the “real world” quickly approaching, us college seniors are anxiously waiting the moment that our invitation is accepted.  Each of us are hopefully pursuing what we believe to be our talents, and fearfully attempting to guess at the future. Oh – and the decisions, all the decisions to be made…

But there is one thing we need to understand: making any decision is only the beginning. When we make the decision, we are really jumping off a cliff that will carry us to the places where we never truly expected to land. Which is totally, completely awesome because we are Eagles with a thirst for new things!

We are all seeking the same thing. We want to fulfill our mission of self-discovery. But what they don’t tell you is there are some serious risks in the business of self-discovery. Maybe you learn that you aren’t meant to be a lawyer, like your dad. Or that you aren’t happy with being in a healthcare environment. That you aren’t fulfilled when you teach to the kindergarten class you’re assigned to. Maybe you learn that you aren’t happy or fulfilled, period.

Or maybe, you’re on the opposite side and still just guessing. It is okay if you have no idea what you are doing. The people whom you believe know what they are doing don’t even know what they are doing. They are just following the rules. Maybe you don’t know the rules.  Maybe you have to create your own rules. You don’t know the impossibilities. Maybe your parents were onto something when they lectured you for thinking of yourself as invincible. Actually, mom and dad, we are only as invincible or self-destructive as we decide. And you should be proud – you raised us this way.

“Who Am I?” is a question that should be asked ceaselessly. Because, in fact, it is not a question at all but rather a way of progression. Remember: it is okay to change your mind. About a job. A feeling. A person. A promise of love. Stop asking permission. Start creating. This comes with the growing part. Future You is going to be so proud of Present You for trying to wrap your head around big ideas. Write and draw and build and play in the way only You can.

We see each other as students, and it shall continue to be so. Keep striving towards a place where you can confidently move the finish line far off into the distance again. It is not going to end once we receive that degree in a few months. Everything will be so instantly and remarkably different. And it will be beautiful.

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