For my speech I didn't want to exorbitantly promise to miss this group of classmates--of whom very few I had ever befriended. I didn't want to wipe away fake tears as I swore to cherish all those memories we never made together. I didn't want to talk about our years at FHS and the games that were played, the rumors that were spread, or the hearts that were broken. That was all behind us.
I chose to do a "Rules for Life" kind of speech, one that didn't focus on our past together, but on our future lives where we might end up worlds apart.
Here is my speech.
Tomorrow is a vision of hope that brings endless opportunities and life-altering choices. However, tomorrow is affected by the decisions we make today so I would offer the following advice to help achieve hope and satisfaction in our journey through life.
- Stay faithful to God. He is the hope of the ages and a friend when we feel there is no other to turn to.
- If you decide to continue your education, give it all you’ve got because that’s what it is. It’s your future.
- If you decide to skip college and go to work, take your job seriously because somebody depends on the outcome.
- If you marry, be committed. Don’t make this important promise with an easy out already in mind.
- Give blood or be an organ donor. They really are gifts of the heart and the only hope some people have.
- Live a good honorable life. When you pass your name on to your children, don’t make them regret it.
- Do favors for people without expecting anything in return.
- Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
- Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality. Even your grandchildren will remember what you taught them.
- Pay your taxes. It will keep Uncle Sam off of your back.
- Pray. There’s immeasurable power in it.
- Marry a man or woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
- When you have a hard choice to make, always ask yourself what is the “right” thing to do.
- Tell your family you love them. They already know it, but they still like to hear it.
- Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams, don’t have much.
- Look around you. If you can help, do it. If you can’t, get out of the way.
- Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
- If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth’s greatest satisfaction.
- Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
- Don’t dismiss your dreams. To be without dreams is to be without hope. To be without hope is to be without purpose.
- Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be, because you only have one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.
At the time I'd revised my speech, I had been out of school for seven years. On one hand it seemed like such a small period of time, and on the other, it seemed as if eternity itself has passed since I stood in that cap and gown praying my cards were in order.
In just seven years I felt I had learned some lessons that needed to be added to that list. So many things that never crossed my mind, so I wanted to revise my graduation speech, I wanted it to include some of the hardships and blessings that have found their way into and through my life.
- Tell everyone you care about that you love them. Tell them every opportunity you get because one day it will be the last opportunity you get.
- If you ever feel like you should call someone at 5:00 in the morning, do it. God put them on your heart for a reason.
- Never make or accept a vow of marriage without seriously giving it some thought first. Don't think about how much you love them now and how great you think they are. Girls, don't think about that white dress or that little diamond. You need to seriously think about that other person. You need to think about spending every.day.of.the.rest.of.your.life with them. If those thoughts don't rock your world and curl your toes, don't even think of making or accepting that offer.
- Never ever tell a pregnant woman "Girl, you're huge!!" You might mean that in a very good way, but she feels like a whale that's washed up on the beach....she will only interpret that badly and you will pay severely for it for the remainder of the pregnancy and the 7-9 months afterwards that it takes her hormones to get ironed back out.
- Let your children play in the mud puddle. You have to wash those clothes either way.
- Search out the unsung heroes in your community and find a way to thank them and to let them know that the good they do does not go unnoticed.
- Never treat someone as if they're beneath you. To do so makes a smaller person of yourself, not them.
- If you commit yourself to someone or something, see it through. If it's not going to work out, you need to get out of it the second that you realize that. If you can't commit yourself to it 100%, you don't need to commit yourself to it at all.
- Watch your child sleep for a minute or two before you go to bed every night. It's food for the soul.
- The most important thing any individual could ever give to you is their trust. Protect it at all costs, once it's broken, if it can be rebuilt at all, it will never be the same again.
- Don't make a big deal over something you can't change. You can either handle these situations with outrage and tantrums and be made to look like a fool, or you can handle it with grace, wisdom and a cool head and you will be respected and admired. The way you handle these situations will be talked about....make it a credit to your name.
- Smile, smile, SMILE!! Smile to your family, your friends, to strangers, to people you don't like...heck even smile at that face you see in the mirror every day! You'd be surprised how one little smile can change things and how it can change the way people view you and interact with you. So smile!!
- Give everyone a fair chance. Think about the times that you were dismissed or not given a chance for judgments and reasons that didn't even fit the bill. Don't do that to others. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
- Open your mind. The only thing that limits you is you.
- If you want to do something, do it. And do it to the best of your ability. Don't convince yourself that you're inferior to others, not as creative as others, or can't do it as well as others. If others were meant to do it, they would have been given the inspiration, not you.
- Its much more pleasant if you spend your life immersed in love and joy and happiness and activity than if you spend it absorbed in worry and fear.
- Find a way to give to others. If you can't give money, give help or time or attention or advice. Use whatever you have to make a change wherever you can. Sometimes the legacy you leave behind has nothing whatsoever to do with money.
This is all I've got for now, but we all have these "words of wisdom" to pass on. What are yours?