As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. But what lies behind that other door?
One word: Opportunity.
That’s something I wish I knew in high school.
At the time, to say that I wasn’t ready to move on to another chapter of my life was an understatement.
If I were given the power to make high school last a little longer, odds are that I definitely would have.
Fast forward to a few years later, though, I can confidently say that I now know better—a lot better.
If I had to go back to my high school graduation and give a speech with what I’ve learned over the years in mind, I imagine it would go something like this:
“We knew that today would come eventually, but now that it’s actually here, I still don’t believe it. I’d love to make this speech about taking chances or following your dreams, but those weren’t the most important lessons this school has taught me.
I’ve learned that more than any lesson or achievement, what I should be most thankful for are the people I’ve met along the way—the ones who have made this journey one worth remembering.
10 minutes may not be enough to do justice to what has been a 4-year rollercoaster, but I owe it to the people who have never left my side to give this chapter of our lives the ending it deserves.
Before we end our time of wearing these checkered uniforms and hang them up for good, I want to share a poem by Lynn White. It’s entitled Days, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to talk about the place I’ve come to know as my second home.
As the days go by, I know that
I will remember some of them in their passing.
If only I could choose the ones to remember,
put them on a spike and keep them safe
so I can revisit them with a smile,
while I throw away the rest.
Watch them blow away
in the wind,
But I can’t.
They’re self selecting,
those memories of
my passed days.
it’s the ones
that I remember
and I wonder if they
will spike my choices
all my days.
We’ve come a long way from our biggest problems being who got to the big tire first. Who could swing the highest. Or who was chosen to be one of the birthday candles their friends blew out in kindergarten. Needless to say, our days of roller bags, trading cards, and puffy stickers are far behind us.
As we got older, our biggest problem became figuring out what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. A few months were even spent worrying about nothing but Prom. Three words: Dates, dresses, and drama. It was truly a night to remember, but the stress of Prom didn’t even come close to the next challenge we would have to face: college.
And even worse, as we started getting our acceptance and rejection letters, we were faced with the realization that high school was truly coming to an end.
We never seemed to run out of lasts, did we? We’ve had everything from our last complete lunch with our best friends, to our last ever high school finals week. For most of us, it is probably also the last time in this gym. But to be in a room we’ve experienced so much in with the people we’ve experienced so much with feels like a more than fitting last.
We look back on these lasts with sadness, but we don’t have to. Because we may leave these memories behind in high school, but we won’t leave behind the people we went through them with.
Fast forward to where we are now, we have more or less an idea of where we want to go, or at least the path we want to take to get there. It seems like the problems have finally run out, but personally, I have one more.
I’ve walked through the gates of this school for years knowing exactly what to expect, so I don’t know how I’m going to adjust to not seeing the faces of the people I’ve been with almost every day for the majority of my life.
From 5 times a week, to maybe just a few times a year. Going from classroom to classroom was hard enough, what more from one city to another, all the way to the other side of the world.
But even with all these changes, looking around at everyone here gives me reassurance to know that some things will always stay the same.
So I stand here, trying to make the most of what’s left of this journey—uncertain, but unshaken.
Years from now, maybe we won’t remember all the memories we hold so close to our hearts right now.
But that doesn’t make me less grateful for any of it.
So here’s to every sleepless night. Here’s to the deadlines we almost didn’t meet. Here’s to the regrets we got good stories out of, and all the ones we got closer to because of them. To every single questionable decision, and all the things we probably shouldn’t have done.
Here’s to the days we thought we wouldn’t make it, but ended up surpassing even our own expectations. Most of all, here’s to the friends we never saw coming, who are now people we can’t imagine living without.
Batchmates, my most heartfelt congratulations to all of you. I may not get to choose the moments I remember, but here’s hoping this is one of them. Here’s to us. Here’s to the ones who helped us get here, and here’s to the ones who endlessly told us the cliché that high school would be the best 4 years of our lives—they really got it right with that one.
I can only hope that whatever comes after this will be just as meaningful as the past years have been. For now, there’s nothing left to say except thank you for one hell of a ride.”
Simply put, don’t dwell too much about closed doors; you never know what wonderful things could lie behind the ones that opened in their place.
And yes, I made a 10-minute speech just to make teach something that could’ve been easily stated in a single sentence.
But what would be the fun in that?