I penned a letter to my daughter that I planned to read at her graduation party. Upon review, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to say to every graduate, especially this year. Anderson Township is an incredible community, filled with love and support, and we take great pride in celebrating these young people as they make their way into the world.
I still remember the excitement of waking up on my own high school graduation day. The tingly feeling of freedom and being released from my young life into the next stage was overwhelming. This is a glorious time for a young person. This time might also be a little daunting in its enormity, and that’s just fine because your future is yet to be forged, by you.
As parents, we may shed tears at the milestone which represents the first step from childhood to your becoming an adult. To us, this also represents the change in your viewing us as your hero, to our viewing you as our heroes. You are the living embodiment of all that we loved in watching you grow, so try not to laugh at our emotional displays, at least not where we can see you.
There are 732 of you in the combined graduating classes of Anderson, Turpin and McNicholas high schools. They say the average person meets 10,000 people in their lifetime. That means that all of you will impact the lives of 7.3 million people in some fashion over the next several decades. That is enough power for one group of graduating students from Anderson Township to change the entire world. As you are changing the world, there are a few things I wanted to share with you.
You will always have us
As you set out on this next phase, know that no matter what you do, in life, you have a home right here in our arms. There will be times when you need advice, others when you need someone to listen, and some when you don’t want to talk at all. We are here for all of those times and more. Letting yourself fall into the arms of people who love you is not a sign of weakness, it is one of strength and wisdom. Knowing that you are far more powerful with the support of others is priceless and essential for your future.
Go for it!
Be brave enough to take the risks that fuel your passion! Don’t settle for good enough, and never, ever, let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Only you get to make that determination after exhausting every effort and dropping back to punt. Your limitations are defined by your own ability to turn your dreams into plans and actions, nothing more and nothing less.
Don’t be afraid to fail
Always remember that there are no failures, even though we will all fail sometimes. Your success will never be measured by the number of times that you fail in your life, but rather by your capacity to love and overcome in spite of any failure. No matter how many times you fall, we will always help you get up.
There will be times when you think the world is falling in around you, and that it might be easier to just accept something less than what you see in your dreams. These are the times when friends and family can be most important. It’s almost impossible to succeed alone. Find someone you trust in life and trust them with your innermost feelings.
Live, love and discover
Of course it won’t be all scary and bad; there will be many wondrous times of discovery and adventure in the next stage of your life. You will explore and discover passions that you may have never dreamed of. In those times we will also be here, applauding and cheering you on like the champions that we know you are.
Be a winner, especially when you lose
As you flow out the doors and into the world as high school graduates, do not lose the spirit of teamwork and compassion. It will be competitive out there at times, but you will always succeed if you show your love and give freely of yourself to others. Help your friends succeed, cheer for your opponents and always leave with a smile and gratitude for the opportunity.
Don’t ever stop dreaming!
There is no age limit on the pursuit of your dreams. At 44 years old I decided to do something new and explore my creative passion for people and community that had been dormant for so many years. They call me a “volunteer”, but I assure you my compensation is immeasurable. Don’t be afraid to follow an age old dream as you grow older.
We love who you ARE
Above everything else, know that you are loved by your family and friends, whether times are good or bad. Our community has been united and shaken by the recent disappearance and death of Brogan Dulle. We may never know the reasons for his taking his own life, but we can ensure that his legacy remains one of love by making the effort to love and support each other at all times, not just the dark ones.
So stand up, graduate. Stand tall and be proud of who you are and who you dream yourself to be. Be brave in your pursuits. Don’t let the size of your obstacle affect the fury of your fight.
The only thing that made the difference between David’s dropping the giant with one stone, and his turning to run and hide, was pure courage. So load up that stone, chuck it with all the passion in your heart, drop the giants and show the world the champions that we all know you are. We are already proud of you, and wherever you go from this point is only going to reinforce that pride.
Go graduate, go, and show the world who YOU are! And, when they ask you what makes you so special, tell them where you come from.