Congrats to all my 8th graders

(About four weeks before the promotion ceremony for 8th graders, I was asked to give the little faculty speech, about five minutes worth to the audience of students, parents and teachers.  For the whole month, I racked my brain trying to think what, in five minutes could I add as a capstone to all the things I’ve tried to teach 14 year olds about life.  I tried starting it several times, but it was a few days before the event, and I sat down, and this is what came out, almost verbatim.  A few parents came up to me later and said it was great, and a few kids and teachers too.  I’m glad some liked it but for me, it gave me something to really think about deeply for a month, crystallizing in my mind how to explain a foundation of building a life. )

I was told I get five minutes to share some thoughts with the graduating students.  Students?  Do you think I can keep it under five minutes? What pearls of wit and wisdom can I share that I haven’t already tried to share. Do you want to know how to be happy and successful?  Google it.

I don’t like being unhappy.  It stinks.   I used to avoid people, avoid challenges, and hide from risk.  That, I found out, was a recipe for disaster.  I wish, that when I was your age, someone had told me then, what I’m going to tell you now.  I wished I believed then what I’m going to tell you.  

(Words from Keb Mo’s “I’m Amazing”

Brother, I need to talk to you. This might sound strange. And you’ll probably think  I’m crazy and I’ve lost my Mind, Well, okay You’re amazing; You’re incredible, You’re  a miracle,  a dream come true. You’re marvelous; You’re beautiful

Guess what? So are you. (from a song I’ve played for the kids a lot

You have an incredible brain and physiology to go with it.  You can learn things, skills, work, play, create, sing, travel, move, dance, act.  You can do almost anything you want to do.  Of course there are some limits.  There is only so much time in the world.  There are limited resources.  But I do know this.

(Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want)

You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometimes you just might find, You get what you need

And you have everything you need to create a life beyond your wildest dreams.

I wasn’t particularly motivated at your age.   My stinking thinking told me that I wasn’t amazing, incredible or a dream come true.  I thought I was just a mistake, and another burden on my family, with nothing to look forward to, and not smart enough or talented enough to make anything of my life.   If you think for any reason you are not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not cute enough, not funny enough, not important enough, not athletic enough,  then that alone will hold you back, stuck in a life of mediocrity and poor choices.  If you believe that lie, let me remind you of the truth.

Besides being amazing, you are here for a purpose.  Do you want to know how to find your life’s purpose? You can google it. You were not born on this earth, at this time, in this country, state, county, community or family by chance.  You are here for a reason.  When you grasp the truth that you are here to make the world a better place, and to make the lives of others as well as yourself better, then it changes everything. You will no longer see yourself as an innocent victim of circumstances.  You begin to see everything as an opportunity.  

I’ve heard more than a few students tell me they don’t need to learn something because they think they know what their life will be like.  Here’s what I know after 62 years of living.  Learning will never hurt you. Ignorance will.  Learning makes your life better.   So in high school and life, if you see every challenge as an opportunity to learn something to fulfill your life’s purpose, you will be more motivated.

Stinking thinking says I don’t need anybody.   Every person in your life is there for a reason, to help you fulfill your purpose.  That doesn’t mean everyone is willing to help.  Some will tear you down.  Whether they build you up or tear you down, it is still an opportunity.  Everyone presents an opportunity to learn, to understand something you didn’t understand before.  Some people are there to teach you patience, or forgiveness, or humility, or acceptance or anger management.  Some people will teach you to stand up for yourself. Some people will teach you that you deserve to be loved for the person you are.  Hang on to those for dear life.

People will make the difference in your life.  Be open to the possibilities of new friendships.  You never know who or what is going to give you a boost towards fulfilling your life’s purpose.  You never know who is going to provide you with a bit of wisdom that can change your life.  Be kind to everyone.  No matter what.

Convince yourself that you are awesome, no matter what imperfections you seem to think you have.  Tell yourself every day.  Surround yourself with friends that know you are awesome, ditch the ones that drag you down.  In high school you make new friends and keep some of the old ones too.  One is silver and one is gold.  

If you are  convinced of your awesomeness, and convinced that your life has purpose, nothing can stop you. You will try things, say things, go places, explore things that you never imagined.  Nothing can stop you. Almost nothing.   Well, one thing can stop you.  It is the Achilles heel of all wanna be’s.    It’s called FEAR.  Fear is nothing more than an inconvenient emotion. Don’t take it too seriously. Help me out.  How do you spell FEAR?

F E A R.  Fear is an acronym for different phrases. .  It could mean Forget everything and run. If you do though, you will be running away from valuable lessons and opportunity.  

F E A R also means False Expectations appearing Real.  Most of the time, what we fear most is minor, an inconvenience, and trivial.  When you are afraid of something, tell yourself fear means  Face Everything and Rise. After all, you are awesome.  Everything you want is on the other side of fear.  Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.  

It is a pretty simple formula but difficult to follow through all the time.   

  • Convince Yourself are amazing.  
  • Convince yourself Your life has purpose.  
  • Manage and conquer fear.

And when in doubt, remember this one little fact.  

  • You are amazing.