The following is the majority of the speech I was asked to write at graduation. I wasn’t the one in school; however, I do work at a college as part of the administration staff and many of our students graduated last week. This was my first time speaking in front of so many people. There were about 200 people in the crowd that evening – students, family, friends, co-workers, the CEO – and it’s been about 6 years since I’ve done any type of presentation or speech. So you can imagine how nervous I was…
But what’s on the other side of discomfort? Confidence. Pride. Growth. I am happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and I think it’s important to “do one thing every day that scares you.” Shake life up a bit. 🙂 I have to admit that I am proud of myself. After the first few paragraphs, my nerves subsided and all went better than anticipated. But isn’t that the way it usually goes? The anticipation is always worse because it gives our ego minds time to think of all kinds of crazy things that…very seldom actually play out.
With all of that being said, I wanted to share my speech with you. If you were given the opportunity to speech with a large group of individuals who are about to venture into a whole new phase in their life – what would you want to tell them? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
“As a graduate of 4 years of college, I understand how much work and dedication it has taken each of you to be here today. The school-work-kids-life balance isn’t easy. I commend you. Today marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another one. Many of those feelings you experienced when you first started attending Trillium, I am sure have resurfaced as you start a brand new journey. I distinctly remember feelings of excitement with a mixture of anxiety. I hope today, you are more excited than nervous.
The following is a quote from Steve Jobs. It’s ironic I chose his words since I used an iPad for the first time the other week and am regularly teased by my hilarious co-workers about not owning a cell phone. But he was successful and shared some wise words back in 2005 I thought may hit home for you. He said, “Your time here is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of everyone else’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
He’s right, as cliché as it sounds – we don’t know what tomorrow may bring so you may as well devote your time to what you want to do, living the life you want to lead. Because when all is said and done, success is seldom measured by what you do, it’s measured by your happiness. Your time is one of the most valuable things you have to offer so it’s important to stop and ask yourself from time to time, “Am I really following my own dreams or have I been subconsciously following the hopes and dreams of what someone else – friends, family, or society – thinks I should be doing?” If you answered yes to the first part of that question, then you’re on the right path.
Don’t let the noise and opinions of others drown out the part of you that knows what is best. Because despite what many of us are told by well-intentioned, loving people, you do know what is best for you. So as wild, unconventional or unattainable others may think the path you are taking is – go for it anyways! In my experience, it’s easier to pick yourself up and dust yourself off than it is to live with regret.
And how do you know what is best for you? By having the courage to follow your heart and intuition. In other words, if it feels right, it is right. Have the courage to trust yourself – the knots and butterflies in your stomach, being drawn to certain people, jobs, places or things, your passions and hesitations – are all trying to tell you something. The tricky part can be figuring out what exactly that message is. Some times, it isn’t easy – things can be as clear as mud and that’s okay too. Some times you just have to throw caution to the wind, take a risk and trust that regardless of the outcome, you made that decision at the time because you felt it was best.
Congratulations to each of you! You did it! And that is certainly something to be proud of. I wish you much success and happiness in your future.”