There's no reason for any of you to have known this, so I'm going to go ahead and humblebrag for a second - I was salutatorian for my graduating class. However...there were only 14 people in my class, haha. So though I had a 4.0 and was/am proud of myself, it really wasn't all that hard with so few people.
High School Graduation - May 2011
I went to a small, private, Christian school and the best thing about having that small of a class was that cliques couldn't really exist because there were too few of us. Sure, some got on my nerves more than others, but I loved my high school class. Most classes had between 20 and 30 people, but somehow mine dwindled down over the years. Nevertheless, I loved it and them.
While I would never want to relive high school (yuck.), I found my salutatorian speech in a box of old stuff last night. Rereading it made me realize how different I am now but also how similar. How everything I said then still applies today. How I inspired myself over four years later by something I wrote when I was 18. So, because of that, I'm going to type it out here. And I hope that someone besides myself will get something out of it as well. (Sorry it's so long!)
Class of 2011, I cannot believe we finally made it to this day. This is the day we have dreamed about for years and talked about incessantly over the past couple of months. The day our parents have dreaded and we have rejoiced over. This is the day that we start a new chapter in our lives, bringing along everything we've learned over the past twelve years from our school, our family, and our friends. And I, personally, have learned a lot.
From my friends - I have learned that waffle house at two in the morning will always brighten my mood, glitter can make anything look better, a game of blokus helpx fix broken heart, veggie tales is still fun to watch and sing along to, and I always have something to talk to - whether it's about the insane amount of English or Spanish homework we have, or about the guys for whom we gave code names.
From my family - I have learned that it's okay to be a little crazy, everyone's family is. I've lerned that cousins are really sometimes more like sisters, parents will give up anything for their children, and no matter if I'm four of if I'm eighteen, there will always be arms to hold me if I'm crying.
And lastly, from my school - I have learned that I would rather have an incredibly tough class than an easy A, these teachers will sit and talk to you about anything, Mr. Tyndall is the best guidance counselor in the world, and most importantly, I have not only been taught, but shown, the love of Christ by everyone on this faculty. I've learned a lot of the past decade or so, and I'm sure that each of you, seniors, has as well. But when you leave here today, I want you to remember a few specific things.
First, when you're in college and something happens - you fail a class, you lose a friend, or you break up with someone, don't give up. Keep pushing forward, even on days when you don't even feel like getting out of bed. There'a a quote by Franklin Roosevelt that says, "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." I challenge all of you to do that. When life knocks you down, stand back up, brush yourself off, and keep going.
Second, a few months ago I attended a conference that had a man named Curtis Zimmerman as the speaker. He gave some of the most inspiring words I have ever heard. Within the next four years, seniors, something in your home life is going to blow up. And when it does, you're going to want to go home and try to fix it. DON'T. Stay in school and finish your education, because once you drop out of college it will be ten times harder to start again. Think of the difference it could make. How much help could you give as a college student with no degree and not very much money or means? But if you stay and finish, you'll not only be able to help your family, but you can use what you learned to help others. When it happens, when something blows up, step back and think before you make any rash decisions. Give your support and your love, but don't give up the opportunity that you're given. Take your life and treat it like a play. You have the pen. Write your own script; don't let someone else do it for you.
Third, live every day as though it was your last; because one day, it will be. In every decision that you make, in every person that you talk to, and in how you live your life, never forget that our time is limited.* Be the person that you want to be today, not tomorrow, not next week. Decide to be the best friend, diligent worker, loving daughter or son, and Christ's shining light every day when you wake up. He only gives us a certain amount of days on this earth, so live your life with no regrets.
Lastly, live like you're living the dream. Live YOUR dream. Because every day that you wake up is something you should be thankful for. All of us have been privileged enough to attend this school, and that in itself is living the dream. Here we are encouraged to live up to our full potential. We are given an education that people around the world would die for, and we have the freedom to openly express our love for our amazing God. Granted, we may not always like the dress code rules, the strikes we're given, or the bathroom passes we have to use, but we are certainly living the dream - don't forget it.
Well, my fellow seniors, as I come to a close I just want to say one more thing. You guys have been the best class I could ask for. We've laughed together, fought together, been in trouble together, and even played Halo with one another. You have made my high school years unforgettable, and I thank you for that. I know that as we all disperse to our different colleges that nothing will ever be the same. People I have known since I was a baby will most likely become old friends I'll see every few years, and best friends will become yearly check ups to see how they're doing; but life goes on. Don't forget Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Remember that He has a plan for you and your life - it may not always parallel your own, but He knows best.
So as you take off your caps and hang up your gown, cherish the moment. Take pictures, write in our senior books, and add each other on Facebook if you haven't already. Cherish today, tomorrow, and each day after, because you'll never be able to get these days back. I wish all of you the very best, and I want you to know that I love you and I will miss you dearly. Live the dream, class of 2011, live YOUR dream.
College Graduation - Honors B.A. in English - May 2015
Whew. I actually teared up towards the end while I was typing it out. I hope that something in that speech touched you or encouraged you or at least made you smile. My 18 year old self is so different from myself now, but we still have the same basic beliefs. I still believe in living my dream. In keeping my pen and not giving it to someone else. I still adamantly believe in pushing forward and that rock bottom can't last forever. I believe in endless opportunity if you're looking for it.
Live the dream, readers. Live YOUR dream. ♥♥
*I also want to say that if you're not a Christian, I wasn't trying to step on your toes. I love everyone equally and if you don't have the same belief then just mentally mark out those parts or skip over them. Because I would still love to help make your day a little better, and this speech can certainly do that without any of the religious aspects. Love you guys. :)