In 2011, I had the privilege of speaking to the graduating class from my high school during their graduation practice breakfast. It was only 3 years after I graduated, so I was speaking to a group of kids I knew well, and it was nice to pass on a little knowledge I had gained from 3 years of “aha!” moments following high school.
Here is that speech, in its (edited with a few explanations, etc.) entirety for you to peruse and/or use:
Quick reminder for those who don’t remember me, and intro for those who don’t know me: Hi, I’m [RoaminTwin]. I was a senior at [insert high school here] when you were freshmen, making me a graduate of [year]. I know how honored you feel to have me in your presence, and though I know you would love for me to go on for hours, let me get right to the point.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I know I’m not the first person to ask you this, I’m sure nearly all of you have been asked this question from the time you were 5 years old. But, “Today i-is Friday, Friday. We-we-we so excited, we so excited…Tomorrow is Saturday. And Sunday comes after” (O wow, I hate myself for that, but I am trying to be hip and far out [for those who don’t remember, this is a part of that damn ‘Friday’ song by Rebecca Black, made popular for God-knows-why earlier that year. It was pertinent. Now, not so much]). Anyways, by 3 o clock Sunday afternoon, you will be high school graduates, so what’s next?
I’m sure a hand full of you will go on to college in the fall, others will go to some kind of trade school, and some of you might be COMPLETELY finished with school all together. But none of these options answers the question “what next?” for me or for anyone else.
Well, what should be the very first thing on your to do list is to make a play list of songs that make you happy. There will be times you will feel upset, lonely, or just plain want to cry regardless of what you do following graduation. I don’t know if you all got to do this, but years and years ago [blatantly exaggerated], when I was a senior in high school, one of our teachers had us each make a soundtrack to our life. I still have that in my car. I’m telling you, a “Happy” play list will get you through anything! And if you need song suggestions, come to me!
Ok, now I would like to offer some advice. Take notes, or leave it at the door, I don’t care. Just know that these are suggestions for life after high school [or any time of your life, really], no matter what you choose to do.
First of all, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t. You aren’t smart enough, you’re not fast enough, you are not strong enough. Make this entire life an adventure, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve or dream of.
Don’t ever let people talk you down, and never take no for an answer. Especially when it comes to transferring AP and ACCP credits. They won’t take them all at first. Fight it.
Be adventurous. Study abroad. Make a movie with your friends. Take road trips or long drives to nowhere. I promise, you will never regret it—especially if it’s when you should be studying for a test. Travel and learn what you like, love, and want before settling into a pattern, or joining the “real world”.
Be polite, kind, friendly and chivalrous. Yes, even you, ladies. It will help you stand out and keep your conscience clear.
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE. Seriously. If you perpetuate a negative attitude—especially towards change in your life—you won’t make it out unscathed [totally had this epiphany in the Fall of 2008. JOIN ME!]. Appreciate everything that comes your way. Even the people that don’t stick around and the missed opportunities. Everything comes in to your life to help shape you into the person you have to live with. If you are negative, you will have to live with that negative person for the rest of your life. Instead, find something to be happy about every day. Strive to twist what seems terrible into a positive light, and smile.
High school was not your glory days. College will not be your glory days. Your days are what you make them. Please don’t be like some people I know and always look back on the past and how “good it was”. You may have been star football player or captain of the cheer squad, but don’t let that be the best time of your life.
I ran into one of my favorite high school teachers during Christmas break of my freshman year of college. When I told him I was planning on graduating early, he said to me: “Don’t you say that. Don’t you ever say that. Stay here. Stay here as long as you can. For the love of God, cherish it. You have to cherish it!”
Ok, so that was a direct quote from Billy Madison, but it was in the same vein. But it really made me wonder: was that really the best time of his life: college? Getting married, having kids, growing old and maybe even teaching didn’t even come close to those four years? It dawned on me that he was limiting his happiness to FOUR YEARS.
Basically, what I want to say is, don’t limit your happiness to one day, four years, or even 50 years. Make EVERY DAY the best day of your life. Don’t let one bad event wreck your whole week or more. It’s your life, and you are given the free will to see things from a clear perspective.
Do what you are passionate about. If you love doing hair and makeup, go to beauty school. Take photography classes, write a book, travel the world, become a taste-tester. If you follow a path that you are not passionate about, you won’t live your life to the fullest potential. You know what they say: GO HARD OR GO HOME
BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE
[insert dramatic pause]
For those going in to the military, thank you.
For those going into the medical field, thank you.
For those who will write and report the biggest news stories of our generation, thank you.
For those of you who will become the next head chef of a famous restaurant, please help me get in without wait-listing, and THANK YOU.
For those of you who have no idea what you want to do with your lives, JOIN THE CLUB! and thank you in advance for everything you will dream up and accomplish. I can’t wait to find out what those imaginations are brewing.
So, don’t sweat the small stuff
Get excited about life
Sing—some of you, stick to singing in the shower
Live, laugh, love
Always wear sunscreen
And most of all…NETWORK. Starting with me.
I wanted to speak to you today because I know most of you personally. Please feel free to stay in contact with me for any questions you may have, or to share what is going on in your lives.
Congratulations, class of [year], you survived [insert high school]. Now run far, far away!
❤ The Roamin Twin