Just a thought.
For those who are interested, here is the speech I gave at graduation. I was the class-elected speaker, the third to speak in the crowd of at least 5,000. So that this makes a little more sense, the theme of our graduation was "Proud to be 2-0-1-3."
Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He is right—one step, one action, can change the entire course of a person’s life. Like that time you auditioned for that play and got the part. Or the time you tried out for a sport and made the team. Or the time you passed that class that seemed impossible. Or the time you simply smiled and said hello to make someone’s sad day a little brighter. All of these things that we have accomplished here have set the tone for the rest of our lives.
So far, we have spent our days dedicated to gaining as much knowledge as we could, winning as many sporting events as we could, living the teenage dream with as many friends as we could. And now, after 13 long years, we are as ready as we will ever be to take on the world because of those choices we have made.
For 13 years, we have had opportunities arise. Opportunities to put ourselves out there and try new things, opportunities to love and to lead, opportunities to make friends and learn from them. We have been blessed with these friends we have surrounded ourselves with. They have helped us prepare for our own life journeys, helped us prepare to make these next critical decisions. Think about the friends we have made, graduates. Some we have known longer than others, but each one of those friends have gotten us through the trials of high school and taught us countless valuable lessons that we will always treasure. They have helped us see the light and have shaped the men and women we are becoming. It is their examples that have made us realize we are capable and ready to take our first steps into the life that we are meant to lead.
Our thousand-mile journey has almost begun. High school was all about preparing us for our critical first step into life. But it wasn’t just any high school that prepared us; it was this high school. Thanks to our high school, we are prepared to start our life’s journey with the right first step.
Each of us are unique in our life’s journey. Some of us have decided to join the military. Others are headed off to work or to serve. Some of us are going to a four-year college, a two-year college, or a career-specific school. Others don’t quite know what they will do just yet. Regardless of where you think you stand right now, you and I are on the brink of life. A life full of things that will bring us heartache and joy, make us endure the hard times and be grateful for the good ones. Each of our unique futures depends on this first step that we will take after this night is through.
It is up to us to choose the direction our first step will be in. “You can lead a horse to water,” the saying goes, “but you can’t make it drink.” We have been led to the water, to the threshold of our lives, but we have to have the courage to take that first step. So watch your step, watch your actions, graduates, because a thousand miles down the journey, we don’t want to regret these critical first moments.
Though we may find the future frightening, we have no need to fear! Our high school and our friends have made us ready to take on the world. Our teachers and peers, the clubs and the sports. Everything here at our high school has prepared us to be here. Now. Graduating as the class of 2013. Everything has taught us to watch our step, and now we will be able to take it with pride. We will begin our life’s journey, whatever it may be, proud to be 2-0-1-3. Thank you.