It’s graduation season. Odds are fair that, whether it was a preschool graduation or a elementary school promotion or the long and arduous university or high school ceremony, you’ve seen a bit of pomp and circumstance during this past month or so.
Graduation easily invites reflection. Whether you’re the one graduating, thinking about the years of work that brought you to this point, or if you’re the parent, wondering if you’re ready to launch this quasi-adult into the world though you would swear you just barely brought her home in a bundle of blankets, graduation is a natural spot to stop and think.
I’ve done a little thinking myself this graduation season.
It’s hard not to reflect on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going when you walk through the doors of your own old high school gymnasium, still packed with the memories of your youth. A few weeks ago I went home to my own small-town high school for my niece, McKenna’s, graduation. (I like to tell my friends that if I had had a daughter, she would likely look like this. In fact, she’s been mistaken for my daughter on many occasions, which was only slightly embarrassing to my 17 year-old self.)
Being the uber-smarty-pants that she is, McKenna was one of the valedictorians of her class, and as such, was invited to give a speech. Each of the speeches was assigned to address either the past, present, or future. McKenna’s assignment was to speak on the present, though her speech brought me back to the past as well. It addressed something that I’ve worked to overcome in so many areas of my life on so many different levels. Fear.
The speech really resonated with me, and so I asked McKenna for permission to share it with you here. I hope it gives you something to reflect on as well. (*As a side note, Mr Blanchard, who she mentions, was also one of my teachers, back when she was just a baby. If every kid could have a teacher like that, we’d have a whole lot less to worry about in our education system.)
In our scheme of past, present, and future I am the present. I don’t know about all of you guys, but presently I am scared! Partially, because I’m up here speaking to you, but mostly because of why I’m up here speaking to you.
High School is over, everything we’ve ever known is changing and that’s scary. Fear is going to play a big part of the next year; leaving home, starting college, entering the military, or getting a real job; all of these can be scary things. ‘Are my roommates going to be psycho?’ ‘Am I going to have friends?’ And ‘How in the world am I going to pay for all this?’ These questions and many others like them echo our fears over and over.
As Mr. Blanchard probably already knows, Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the dark side,” and it’s true. Fear can make us avoid risks, stay in our comfort zone, and avoid change. Fear can be a crippling force, but we don’t have to let it run our lives. Jack Canfield said that “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” That’s especially true for us. We want to have an amazing college experience so we’re going to have to get past our fear of rejection and put ourselves out there. We want that job so we’re going to have to ignore our fear of failure and apply anyway. The rest of our lives are waiting for us on the other side of fear. In the words of Bill Cosby, we must “decide that [we] want it more than [we] are afraid of it.”
So ask yourself, ‘Is your fear going to be enough to stop you from getting what you want out of life?’ If not, we must go forward and live life to the fullest in spite of fear. I found a quote that says this perfectly:
“As you grow up, you will have your heart broken more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your best friend, you’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures. Laugh too much and love like you’ve never been hurt. Because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back.”
Congratulations class of 2013. We made it. We’re heading into a scary world, but on the other side of fear, the rest of our lives are waiting.
What fears do you need to let go of, to cross over to where your dreams and goals are waiting?