Had I been asked to speak

I attended my school's graduation ceremony today. It was very fancy. I got to wear my snobbery-laden Westminster gown and hood. There were minimal beach balls in the audience, and the students gave nice albeit cliche ridden speeches about achieving your dreams, and never giving up, the future is ours, we can do anything we set our minds to!

Still, graduation ceremonies are boring, so I composed my own graduation speech in my head. For those of you who don't have a bunch of teenagers in your life, welcome to Mormon Child Bride's Alternate Commencement Speech!

Congratulations! You graduated High School! You are now qualified to waitress, clean teeth, aide for a real teacher,and pick up poop in hospitals!

Not for you? Then this graduation isn't an ending for you, but a beginning. After all, you can do anything you set your mind to, right?

Wrong. You can't. There will always be someone smarter than you, prettier than you, wealthier than you, and luckier than you. They will probably get your dream job. So what I would suggest to you, my recent graduates, is to take the following words of advice, which I am qualified to give you as a 23 year old recent college graduate with alarming bouts of unemployment.

1. Everyone will tell you to find what you love to do, and figure out a way to make money doing it. This is decent advice, and this is why I'm an underpaid public school teacher. Be aware though, even what you love will be boring/hard/frustrating some days. Don't give up.

2. You can do anything you set your mind to... for one year. You can work any job, live in any dive, and get through any year of school. You really can. Don't give up.

3. Seriously, don't give up. Unless you hate it. After a year, if the job/major/relationship/apartment makes you want to slit your wrists, quit. There is no honor or glory in being miserable. Quitting is for people well-adjusted enough to know when to abandon the course and try again. I know too many of my peers languishing in internships and jobs they despise. If you have to quit your job and move home and regroup, do it. Remember, sometimes quitting is for winners. Life is short. Be happy. (I told you, it wouldn't be a true graduation speech unless it was riddled with cliches.)

4. It also wouldn't be a graduation speech if I didn't use a quote. Here is your quote: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill.

Some of you may be the lucky ones. You really may be the smartest, prettiest, most wonderful teen in the whole world. Maybe you really will be a multi-millionaire in a few years. Wonderful. But you still can't give up. Remember, success is not final. You must constantly find ways to improve, because stagnancy, even for multi-millionaires, is failure. But don't worry, failure isn't fatal.

For those of you less lucky, find the courage to continue. The one cliche that really is true? The world is scary. It's a different world than the one your parents entered as High School graduates. But it's your job to fix it.

Best wishes! Have a wonderful summer!

Mrs. L


Dustin and Whit said...

you should write a book, I would read it

CaLLie.ANN said...

Such a GREAT speech, and full of truth. Touche'

NIKOL said...

I wish someone would have told me, when I was graduating, that graduating from college is similar to graduating from high school. There still isn't a dream job waiting for you. There is nothing waiting for you other than possibilities. You have to out and create your future. It won't fall in your lap.

For some reason, I knew all that when I was graudating high school, but I somehow thought that getting my college degree was my ticket to ride. I had so very much to learn.

JJ said...

...i'd totally invite you to speak at a graduation!

Jessica said...


Mrs. Clark said...

I like what you said about quitting something you hate, but let me tell you about a 30-year-old guy I know.

He started school at an expensive golf place in Arizona, and quit that. He wanted to be a songwriter, and he quit that. Thankfully, he finished his mission. He got engaged to a girl he met on the mission, and they broke it off--he's gay. So he quit the church too. He got into a multi-level marketing thing and quit that (thank goodness). He became a flight attendant, and was laid off. He worked retail, and quit--they wouldn't pay him enough. He has been a bellhop at a ritzy hotel, and he quit that to walk across the U.S. to raise money to dig wells in the Phillippines--they have trouble getting clean water there. So two weeks out, he quit that too.

All with the financial and emotional support of his parents, who, in my opinion, are not letting this kid fail spectacularly enough to figure out that regardless of whether it's "fulfilling" or not, you have to get out there and make your own way at something.

Stephanie said...

Mrs. Clark

The lawyer's daughter in me is always somewhat amused by your anecdotal evidence. "I know a lady who is a lawyer and a bad mom! I know a guy....My neighbor's son....My friend's sister...."

I'd love to hear what you've learned about life from your own experience.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

Very Nice!

Mrs. Clark said...

Okay, Stephanie, touche! (Actually, I know the guy I referred to myself and have since he was 8.)

My husband is an electrical engineer. His minor in college was English. Weird combination, I know.

For the last 26 years, he has not liked his jobs. It's gotten progressively worse. Although he is well paid, he is doing computer systems engineering and it's boring.

He laments that he didn't become a librarian or a museum curator. But I have told him that he went out and provided for his family, even though he wasn't particularly fulfilled in his work, and that has been a very honorable thing to do.

I have also learned that every job has its frustrations and crummy aspects. Try washing the same old clothes, towels, and sheets week in and week out. Fixing dinner only to have it disappear and wash the dishes--again and again and again. Clean the floor. Change the diapers. Scrub the tub.

My husband used to counter that "at least it's with people you love." That doesn't always do it!

Anyway, is that better?

Lindsey said...

remind me...why didn't you speak at my graduation?