Last night my gorgeous, talented Little Sis graduated from high school. I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I became a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City about three and a half years ago. My Little was a freshman at the time, and was part of a prestigious program called the Kauffman Scholars. Kids in the Kauffman program were matched up with a Big that could help and guide them as they transitioned to college. You can learn more about the program here, and you totally should, because it’s amazing.
My Little’s graduation was really touching, if just for the fact that her family was there with me and I felt so included in everything. Her mom and brothers and sisters-in-law and nephews were all in attendance and cheered along with me when her name was called. It was pretty fabulous.
The Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas School District gave the commencement address and did a wonderful job. I sat there on those uncomfortable bleachers thinking to myself, “What would I tell a senior in high school on their graduation day? What advice would I give? What they heck have I learned in the past 12 years? Anything? Nothing? Everything?”
And so, without further adieu, is my (fake) commencement address:
Hello Seniors. Today is the last day of your high school career. But it really, truly, is the first day of the rest of your life. High school can be tough. You’re learning how to be “you.” And trust me, you might think you know exactly who you are, but you probably don’t. And you probably won’t for a long time. If high school is the beginning, then you’re just coming up on the middle and you’re no where near the conclusion.
You may have spent the last four years pretty confident in who you are. I know I did. My years in high school were not without pain or loss or heartbreak, but in general, I thought I knew exactly who I was. And in a small way, I did. Twelve years later, my core beliefs are the same. I attribute that to my family, who raised me in a way that I’m proud to continue as I grow. But I think the most important change has been my realization that I have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s OKAY.
It’s okay to feel lost and unsure. I turn 30 this year and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I have two kids and yet I still look around when they act up and think, “Where is their mother, these kids are insane.” If you feel like you know it all, you’re probably going to be pulled back down to earth very soon. But that’s part of life. Fall down, get up, start again. Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes is not going to be easy. Some days are going to be really, really hard. You’re going to want to sit down and cry or punch something or just quit. But it will get better. Maybe not today or tomorrow or in two years…but eventually, you will look around and think, “Holy shit. This is MY LIFE. And it rules.”
A few other random tidbits of advice for you, from my own personal experiences:
Do what makes you happy, not what you think you should do to make everyone else happy. Explore your creativity. It’s there, even if you doubt it. The friends you think are amazing, really are amazing. The ones you think are a little off? They are batshit insane and you should stay as far away from them as possible. Drink more water. Wear SPF 100+. Try macaroons, you’ll probably love them. If you’re nerdy, don’t worry, the bullying will stop soon and you’ll be a millionaire. If you’re popular and mean, be nicer to the nerdy kids. They might be your boss one day and you don’t want them degrading you in front of the whole staff because you were a douche to them in high school. Don’t worry that you’re too old to watch television shows made for teens, because someday you’ll be thirty and you’ll still be doing it. It’s because you’re awesome.
And really, that’s my whole point. You’re amazing. Awesome. Incredible. I’m so proud of you. What you have accomplished is just beyond wonderful. Enjoy your success. Celebrate yourself. And never forget to keep trying.