I lifted the title for this write up from a high school graduation speech that caused quite a stir a year or so ago when it was delivered. For the full text of the speech, which, by the way, I wish was given to me back in 1976, please click here.
I find it particularly relevant these days since my daughter, whom some of you know either through her efforts here at E2 or have met on certain occasions is getting ready to take the plunge in May. We, or more fittingly, she, is in the process of deciding which college she’d like to attend and has a bevy of offers she’s considering. To use a modern internet term, she’s currently “trending” towards the University of Cincinnati where she hopes to major in Environmental Science.
About four year ago at approximately this time I was asked to write a letter to my kid celebrating her graduation from grammar school. I hope I did her some justice in the words that I wrote and that she continues to remember them as well as I do. So far, to my knowledge, her high school hasn’t asked parents to do that but I feel as if I’d be doing her an injustice if I didn’t try.
So here goes…
Can you believe it? Another four years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. You’re getting ready to leave the nest and spread your wings and fly into the face of the so-called real world. I know that sounds a bit daunting but I’m pretty sure you’re well prepared to take the next steps in the journey we know as life. Before you do, maybe a little introspection or an early audit on your own experiences is in order.
I know you’ve worked hard throughout the last four years. There’s credible evidence of that everywhere starting with your grades, your extracurricular activities, your social life and your job. All of those are mere stepping stones for what lies ahead.
As you know, I was never fortunate enough to attend college. Due to certain circumstances which I thought were beyond my control I felt as if I was left with little choice in the matter. I now realize just how wrong I was and while there’s very little in my life that I would change, it remains one of my larger regrets. I think I would have thrived in that atmosphere and I’m always left to ponder what might have been. That’s a pretty hard way to go through life and in my heart of hearts I hope you find your true calling and squeeze and eventually taste every last bit of juice from the fruit that it has to offer.
You’re not alone though and the competition will only get tougher. Just read the speech I referred to earlier and you’ll realize just how many other young adults find themselves in the same boat. I’m reminded of a line from the movie Caddyshack in which a young kid is trying to butter up a prominent member of some elite country club to get a recommendation for college. His reply to the young man was ”Well, the world needs ditch diggers too.” and while truer words might ever been spoken they shouldn’t be said to somebody trying their best in order to reach their potential. Dreams shouldn’t be quashed so easily and so early in life.
Honey, I hope you know that I’ll always be proud of you and your accomplishments and that’s a very good thing. In reality though, my pride in you can’t hold a candle to the pride you’ll feel in yourself when achieve want you want to in life. Very few people get to say that.
The door of high school is close to being shut, the door to college and beyond remains wide open. It’s up to you to walk through it and claim the trophy as yours.
All my love, all the time,
PS: One last thing, you know I’m a huge Buckeye fan. If you do choose the University of Cincinnati and decide to become a “Bearcat” I guess I’ll have to make an exception and root for them.
That’s a very small sacrifice to make in a very large life.