How do we know it’s going to be okay when we live in a world where security is elusive and the future is unclear? There are good things in our lives that conspire to make things work out. In this guest post, my daughter Alexandra Cizek shares these things. She presented them during her commencement address to Cascade High School in the Seattle area (video at end of post).
IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY
Look at us. Look to the person on your right… and on your left. Look where we are! Look at us in our gowns.
It’s all over:
> The sleepless nights of studying for tests.
> The anxiety of sitting in Verver’s class hoping desperately that he doesn’t call on you.
> The multiple notifications you get of “So and so posted in the Cascade HS Class of 2k16” page on Facebook.
We successfully completed our high school experience. When you look back on it, are you happy with it? Do you like what you did and who you became? Or do you wish things could have been different? Are you glad you decided to join that club where you met your best friend? Do you wish you would have gone to that one basketball game or have asked that one person to that dance? Do you regret the words you said…. or maybe the words you left unspoken?
No matter what, it is okay… because it’s in our past. There’s nothing you can do to change high school but to move forward and look ahead. We can learn from our mistakes and do things differently. Our past does not define us.
Starting tonight we will be in a special season of life where we get to start fresh. We get a clean slate. The “title” we were stereotyped by in high school is now gone. The decision we made that some defined us by has vanished. We can be whoever we want to be.
Remember when we were 4 and we wanted to be a rock star, police officer, or astronaut? Or maybe even a rockin’ police officer in space! Well now is the time we can make our dreams a reality. Okay maybe not all of us will become the next Hannah Montana or go to the moon, but we get to be whoever we want to be.
I clearly remember the night before freshman year. I was sitting downstairs on my couch with my family balling my eyes out because of how terrified I was of going to school the next day. Little private school, friendless Alexandra had to take on the big, scary, public high school. That means she would have to walk past the scary seniors, look up to all the juniors, try to be like the sophomores, and attempt to talk to the freshman. It was so scary!
The next day my brother walked me to my first class. The whole time we were walking people kept saying hi to him and it felt like he knew everybody. I was freaking out. I knew nobody. I was thinking “How does he know so many people? This will never be me.” Then we got to my class and it was time for him to go. I so desperately did not want him to leave me. But the time came… and he left… and I walked into my first class. To make a long story short, everything was okay. I met people that turned into friends… and some of them will be lifelong friends. I got involved and made some great memories.
You know, starting high school and starting adult life kind of feel the same way. We are young adults going into a big scary world, not knowing exactly what we want or what we are going to do. It’s scary now, but it will turn out okay. Here are 3 reasons why.
#1 REASON WHY IT WILL BE OK
Number one… the future works out because of our character. Things don’t just turn out great on their own; it takes effort on our part. For example, we need to have the character trait of getting outside of out comfort zone. The best things happen when you put yourself out beyond what’s familiar. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life by simply saying hello. I’ve made my most meaningful memories just by signing up for something.
Stepping outside of our comfort zone doesn’t have to be something as drastic as running for student body president of your university or living on your own. It can be doing something as simple as leaving your dorm room door open so people can come in and say hi. Even better is to be the person that walks into someone else’s room and says hi. It can be as simple as deciding to join a rec sports team or community organization. No matter what you decide to do, reaching out and stepping outside of your comfort zone will make a difference in bigger ways than you can ever imagine.
#2 REASON WHY IT WILL BE OKAY
How else do we know that things are going to be okay? Number two… Because failure isn’t final. We may get a job and get fired. We may declare a major only to find out it totally sucks. We may realize that we have to move back home after living on our own. It’s okay.
Failure isn’t final because of this simple principle: “Where we are at today is a result of the decisions we made yesterday. Where we will be tomorrow depends on the decisions we make today.” This is powerful. “Where we are at today is a result of the decisions we made yesterday. Where we will be tomorrow depends on the decisions we make today.” If things are messed up for us today, all we have to do is make different choices and we’ll change the course of our tomorrow. Things are going to be okay.
#3 REASON WHY IT’S GOING TO BE OK
Finally, the third reason… Circumstances change, high school friends don’t. Just ask anyone who’s been to a class reunion! Our circumstance will never be the same after tonight. Everything we have known our whole lives is about to change. That is definitely an overwhelming feeling, feeling like this is the “end all be all”… but that’s not the case. Yes our circumstance is changing; we might not be sleeping in our own bed anymore or be involved in the same things we’ve always been involved in, but that doesn’t mean the people around us have to drastically change too.
Keep the friendships you’ve built, make an effort to stay in each other’s lives. But don’t let that hold you back from making new friends and putting yourself out there. I think that we will find that as time goes on we will talk less and less, but we will be able to pick right back up where we left off. It would be so easy to live in a somber post-high school land of sadness and to limit our future selves. But honestly, we’ve had our time to enjoy it. Now it’s time to say goodbye to the amazing chapter of life we’ve just experienced, and to say hello to the exciting new one waiting for us right around the corner.
Imagine this: your future best friend may be sitting in a graduation ceremony right now… just like you… and you don’t even know them yet. The many incredible memories you’re going to look back on and remember for the rest of your life are yet to be made. How exciting is that?
So wrapping it all up… Our season at Cascade has been filled with ups and downs. There have been many smiles but also many tears. We have made great memories that we will never forget, but also some that we wish we could forget. This will be a time in our lives that we will always remember and that we always hold close to the heart. But don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened.
There is so much more just on our horizon. This isn’t the end of a story, simply the start of a new chapter. Of course we are filled with sadness as we’ve had our last pep assemblies, football games and food drives. Just as classroom lights slowly flicker to darkness, we realize that our high school experience has now come to an end.
But remember… you have your hand on the light switch… because while it is an end, it is also a new beginning.
Shakespeare once said, “The past is prologue.” Our whole lives, everything we’ve ever known, has been setting us up for this moment; these past 18 years have been the prologue to our story. We are now equipped to go out into the real world and leave our mark and be who we want to be.
Take advantage of this moment. Step outside of your comfort zone… try new things and fail… and hold onto your friendships while also creating new ones. This is it, Bruins. It has been an incredible journey, Class of 2016. Now go out… make the most of life… because it’s going to be okay.
It’s Going To Be Okay – Graduation Speech by Alexandra Cizek
Graduation Speech: You Are Not That Special
Commencement Speech: Russell Wilson
Commencement Address: Steve Jobs
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