A Graduation Speech To My Senior Class At Charter Arts

A Graduation Speech To My Senior Class At Charter Arts

I didn't get to say it in person, but I'd still like you to have it.
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It is with great pride, honor, excitement, and solemnity that we gather here today to graduate. Here we stand, on the cusp of a new era for each and every one of us, the precipice of the future that is no longer looming in the distance. At the risk of being totally cliche — the rest of our lives begin today.

I don’t think I need to say to the parents and teachers in the audience that this occasion is special, because you all know how special this institution is.

Everyone has had a different experience at Charter Arts, but I think there’s one thing we can all agree on — and that’s the love that surrounds our school. Whether that be love for each other, love for our teachers, or an intense, incredible love for our art. One of the quotes that has resonated with me throughout this entire experience is: “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” Now we all know that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a little bit crazy, but four years here have convinced me that he is right. Love may not have been the first thing we thought about when we were up until 3 a.m. writing an essay or suffering through a class or when things went wrong. And things did go wrong. But right now, in this beautiful moment, think about the love you’ve felt here, felt for each other, felt for this experience.

I believe that love is what brought us here to Charter Arts in the first place. We all have a love for what we do. We have a love for our craft and that’s why we chose to devote four years of our lives to it. Or if you’re like me, you love too much, and you can’t really decide.

For four years, we have been praised for our intelligence and our talent, our compassion, our willingness to try again and again, to get up when we fall. And maybe we don’t realize it in the moment, but it’s true — we are intelligent, we are talented and we are determined and passionate and curious in ways that we didn’t appreciate the first day we walked through those doors, but we appreciate now, as we walk out of them. And we have grown our capacity to love. We entered Charter Arts, and left an entirely different world behind us, all for something that we loved. It’s easy to forget now, that the new changes we are about to come upon are similar to the changes we have already experienced.

Change is a frightening thing. Leaving anything, anyone, that you’ve known for so long is scary and it’s hard to find any comfort in that fact. So I’m here to admit to you: I’m afraid, but I refuse to let it stop me. We make the decision whether or not our fear will paralyze us or push us forward. We make the decision whether or not fear will make us give up. Fear is never meant to be an answer. My point is this: If you let the fear of change control you, you may be giving up on another experience of love like we had here. If we had said we were too afraid of this change, that we were too afraid to come to Charter Arts and to make a decision about our lives, the love in this room wouldn’t exist. To continue loving what you do through fear and constant change sounds impossible, but we’ve already done it, and what an experience it was.

There is no simple way for me to end this, other than to tell you again that I hope you embrace all of the love you have in your life and that you embrace change and never let apprehension about the future control the decisions you make now. We leave here today with bravery; not fear, and recognition of the courage and love that is inside each and every one of us. A courage born to us here, a courage we will carry for the rest of our lives. Change is coming for each of us; we are all headed somewhere. I’m so honored to be able to tell you that I hope you get there.

Cover Image Credit: Ashlyn Miller

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You May Have Worn The Prom Dress With Him, But I Get To Wear The Wedding Dress

You had him in high school, but I get him for the rest of my life.
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High school seems like the best time of your life when you are in it. You think that all of your friends will be with you until the end, and that you will end up with whoever you are dating your senior year. For very few, that might just be the case. For all others, that is far from true.

You thought that you would marry your boyfriend and you thought that everything would work out how you had always imagined. I don't blame you though. He's great. You wanted everything with him, but you were just not right for him.

I wish I could say that I am sorry it didn't work out for you, but I can't. I can't because he is mine now, and I get to cherish him forever. You didn't do that right, and you were not meant to be together. You will find someone too, but I am happy that you were not the one for him.

Sometimes I have issues with jealousy, and I hate that you got all of the high school stuff with him. You got to go to games and support him. It kills me that I couldn't be there for him because I know I would have actually been there wholeheartedly. I would have done it out of love, not as a popularity appearance.

I hate that you got to go to all of the school dances with him. He got to see you all dressed up and probably told you how great you looked. I'm sure you did look great. Prom dresses were always fun to pick out and so colorful. It was exciting to match colors with your date. I am sure you had fun choosing his matching tux to your dress.

I find myself getting jealous, but then I stop. I am getting to match his tux with our wedding colors. I got to go dress shopping in a sea of white, and he doesn't get to know one detail about that dress yet. He will get to see me walk down the aisle and then every day forever. I get to love him forever.

I try to not get jealous of all of the things you got with him because it is all in the past. You had your time, and now I get the wedding. You got to dress up in high school, but I get to dress up for my wedding with him. He may have put a corsage on your wrist, but he will be putting the wedding ring on my finger.

Cover Image Credit: Jessy Scott

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Even When You Don't Have It In You

For the struggling college student at the start of a new semester.

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The above picture represents a stage in my life that I thought I would never get through. I had just finished final exams and was terrified of the outcome of my last semester as a Junior. I had experienced so many mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks from a series of events and low places that I found myself in throughout the semester, so much that my mom had to stay with me during final exams. I needed encouragement, and I needed it bad.

Kind of like right now, and I'm sure that some of you might find yourself in the same place.

While the start of a new semester looks shiny and promising, there is always that point when reality begins to settle in, and you realize that responsibilities are resurfacing just as fast as they left at the onset of Christmas break.

You show up to the first day of classes, all of your professors throw a syllabus at you, as well as your final exam date, and you begin to feel your forehead break out in sweat. We've all been there, and that is precisely the place that I found myself at while sitting in my first ever 8 AM of my college career.

Not only do we attend classes, but nightly meetings as well, all while attempting to retain a social life and keep up with our mental health.

It's A LOT. I know it. I've been there.

There have been days when I wanted to simply throw in the towel, and quit school altogether.

I have been at the point when I couldn't find even a sliver of motivation to get me through the meetings, the extra credit seminars, work, or even to church.

The feeling of defeat is nothing new to me, but what I have learned is something that will forever be a constant even though my motivation level is not always.

The Lord doesn't love you because you do everything right, or you attend every meeting and aren't a second late... The Lord loves you because of you are His, and that will never change.

See, regardless of our level of perfection in a certain class or at a meeting, he is always constant, always.

Regardless of our inability to give ourselves creditor to take time to breathe, his loves you fully, with no prerequisites.

That is what had gotten me through the majority of my sleepless night when a responsibility or test kept me awake at night with anxious thoughts.

Regardless of our performance, or how good we look to the people of this Earth, our worth is found in God, and we must not let performance or standards of society fog up our sight of that.

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