I was in my room thinking of scenarios that might happen if I ever go on Ellen’s talk show. I suddenly found myself talking about my favorite book The Alchemist. If you have not read it, OMG YOU SHOULD. It is soooooo good and soooo inspirational. It may be one of the few books I read and reread for the rest of my life because I believe that each time I will find a different lesson or pick up on an inspirational line or story that I missed before.
However, thinking about The Alchemist made me think about my graduation speech. Graduation was a huge deal for me and I worked incredibly hard to be where I was that day. I remember reading a letter I wrote to myself freshman year as part of the an English assignment where I wrote, “If you are not valedictorian, I will be very disappointed.” Its a good thing I did not disappoint myself. Standing on that stage made everything worth it. From arguing with my mom that I got home late (9:00pm) to people questioning if I am really at school for all those hours to sleeping at 12:00am and waking up at 4:00am to finish work and lastly struggling with my worth as a person in this world.
I wanted to share my speech with you guys because of the proud moment I had in my life. I hope it inspires you just a little bit to continue to pursue your passion because it does for me every time that I read it.
Good afternoon and thank you to Nigel, Mr,Johnson faculty, students, parents, family and friends, for coming to support and celebrate our futures today.
I would like to start by talking about one of the most important things I learned in high school, Falling in love. This may sound crazy but I assure you it is not crazy at all. Falling in love is hard work but it is amazing and worth it. Through out my four years I fell in love with a lot of things. Things as simple as pizza or clothes or as complicated as writing and striving to be an inspiration. But what I fell most in love with were the people who taught me how to love the simple and complicated things in life.
I fell in love with my friends every single one of them, but you see you cannot love, you cannot learn to love without experiencing hardships first. And boy did we see a lot. From not believing in marriage, to brothers going to army, to fathers moving out, through battles of cancer, depression, from mothers being around 24/7 to rarely at all, brick walls built around customs about sexuality. It was all there through sleepless nights and wakeless days, only seen as sensitive to those who did not know of the powerful and tough topics we spoke about. Our hardships were what made us strong although in our younger days we were taught that struggle is weakness.But together we were allowed to be vulnerable and with that we became brave souls.
I fell in love with my teachers, who taught me a world I was unknown to. Things such as its okay not to be okay, it is human nature to fail and fine to do so as long as you try again. They taught me that my weaknesses were really my strengths, weaknesses such as staying late after school, not getting things right the first time, identifying who I was and was not. My teachers are life coaches and mentors who taught me that I have a lot to work on as I show them I am willing to continue to progress.
I fell in love with my parents who never showed me weakness. Never showed me that there were bills that needed to be paid for. When I was old enough to understand and saw how things had to change I noticed that things were not okay. Despite my parents struggles, it has never felt that way. Never did I feel as if I was missing something because my parents gave me everything. I fell in love with my siblings and cousins who always gave me advice and supported my decisions, and despite all else always showed me they loved me.
I fell in love with myself for molding who I wanted to be even if it defied the rules of being a traditional Dominican girl. Regardless of all the laughter and critics I stuck to softball for three years. Regardless of sticking with the safe job, a teacher, I decided to go with the risky job and will be studying creative writing.I learned that my life goal is to write so that I acknowledge everyday heros. I fell in love with myself because I learned in my four years that I must love myself first in order to love anybody else.
Class of 2014 we made it. Now we are on our way to our future, to mold ourselves into the people that we always aspired to be.
For the next four years fall in love with yourself. Decide for yourself what and who you want to believe in.
Fall in love with your future. Have your set goals and go for them. Do not make a back up plan or allow a no. The world will make space for you as long as you are committed to your passion. When you think back to this speech, if you ever, remember I never once mentioned it was easy. But in those rough times think of these eight lessons eight hearts taught me.
- Never let a someone determine who you are supposed to be
- Know your limits. Do not say yes when you need to say no
- Do not underestimate the people around you
- Do not judge. You never know someones full story
- Do not ever let someone tell you you are not good enough
- Proving and deciding who you are is difficult
- Do not ever hold your tongue on true feelings because it ends up hurting you
- Do something you love just because you do
It will be hard but remember class of 2014 you are ready. Ready to put up with all the world pushes against you remembering that the world is only testing you to prove just how bad you want it. Just like santiago in The Alchemist who fought his way from spain to the pyramids in Egypt looking for his treasure, only to realize that it was right where he started. In that abandoned church. But even standing in the same old abandoned church after the journey his view was different. He no longer saw the teared down ceiling or broken stones, he saw the treasure that laid right under your feet waiting for him to take it.
So Good luck class of 2014, remember to fall in love and find your treasure. Thank you!