The school year is rapidly drawing to a close. All of the activity and the learning, the fussing and the fighting, the laughter and the drama are winding down as we put the past 9 months to bed. My seniors will graduate in a few short weeks and as usual, I've become attached this group of students. They are unique, energetic, dynamic people. I will miss them all next year (some more than others). To one, however, they've again taught me so much about teaching, about life, and about the intricacies of being human. I am grateful to have had them in my classes and in my life. I hope that in some fashion, I have taught them a few things as well. In case I missed a few lessons and objectives along the way, I want to leave them with this last bit of advice.
Dear Graduating Seniors,
I want you to be fearless. I want you to make a practice of doing things that scare you. Try everything, even if you worry you might fail. Everything is an experience and even if something doesn’t go as planned, you learn from it. Mostly you learn that you are a lot stronger and more capable than you could ever imagine. Being fearless helps you grow.
I want you to travel. Go places while you are young. Meet new people, see new places, experience new things; absorb the energy that they offer. Traveling opens up the world as well as a world inside ourselves.
Love. Love hard. Don’t ever be afraid to love deeply and truly with everything you are. Don’t ever be afraid to be well-loved either. It is important to know how to receive love, to respect and honor the love someone has for you. Learn how to do both, so that no matter what happens in this life, you have the experience of feeling with every ounce of what you are.
Laugh long and often. Laughter is one of the purest, lightest forms of joy I know. It makes bad times better and good times great. Laughter refreshes even the most tired, burdened soul and brings people together.
Stay close to your family, but don’t hesitate to go on your own path. One of the hardest things to do is to balance the obligation and responsibility one has towards family with the desire to be the agent of his or her own destiny. Respect both, but know that your parents raised you to be the best possible version of yourself you can be, even if it’s far away from them geographically.
Be grateful. Pray or meditate every day and begin with a list of things for which you are grateful. Acknowledge that which is greater than ourselves as well as your place within the grand scheme of things. Show gratitude for getting to live in this beautiful world, for having friends and family, for having purpose and meaning. It is one of the very best things I know to do for the creation of a satisfying life.
Be kind. Be generous and kind not because you feel obligated to do so, but because it is the right thing to do. When in doubt, be kind.
Stand up for yourself. Stand up for others who cannot do so for themselves. Be aware of your own needs and opinions while also advocating for the greater good. Never let anyone or anything silence what you have to say. Your opinion matters, your ideas are important, and your voice makes an impact, even when you think it doesn’t.
Lastly, try to be a little better tomorrow than you are today, however that manifests. It may be something little or it may be a big life change. Just make sure that you give your best to any endeavor that is worthwhile. Whatever you choose to do, infuse it with integrity and character. No job, no act of service, is beneath you because the dignity lies in a job well done, not the job itself.