Its almost been 8 years to the date. That momentous date, where I stood in front of all my fellow classmates and belted out what I thought was an inspiring set of words. My university commencement address, was one of the most monumental moments for me in my life, a journey that I didn't really realize that I had always been on, but since it has happened, I know that it was meant to be this climatic moment that would be this constant reminder for me in my life as I continued forward that dreams really did come true.
I know I must sound like nerd central, but after being beat out in 8th grade for the valedictorian spot by a classmate whom only won because the teacher went about the voting the wrong way and then again being beat out in my final year of high school because of the tight candidate race, I just WANTED MY TURN TO COME. And in reality I never entered University thinking it was a possibility, I figured High School was my last real shot. I mean in University I thought that managing school and my attempt at being cool would take up so much of my time that in my mind I just wanted to finish and decent enough that some employer would want to hire me.
But as luck would happen my desire to be good at everything and anything, made me stick out and landed me in front of what seemed like millions of people, with the important task of inspiring for the future. JESUS. Talk about a load on your back. At the time I was just focused on getting through my speech with out stumbling and freaking out, but in retrospect I wonder if any of the professors and the dean knew what the hell they were doing when they picked me, LITTLE OLD ME.
Regardless, I did deliver, I didn't have any voice cracks and that image of everyone staring at me from the audience will forever be embedded in my mind. And it's because of all this, that every year around this time I seem to get all nostalgic and feel this need to celebrate with the millions and billions of people graduating around the world. I take this time of year, as my true new year - the ending of all of the great things that have happened since the fall and the beginnings of the new somethings beautiful to come.
And what better way to celebrate this time of year, then to sit in front of Youtube and watch HOURS AND HOURS of commencement addresses by all the famous people that have had some major influence over us in the past year. While I know there are many more to be posted, I have to say that so far none of them to date have let me down - I have laughed my ass off, cried, attempted to run for the hills and danced to the memories of the songs that were hot when I was a teen thanks to PDiddy's address at Howard U.
All of them have made me reflect, but I would say that Sandra's Bullock's speech is the one that has had me thinking the most. I have often talked about what I would tell my younger self - the crazy kid, the lost teenager and girl trying to figure out what this life thing is. But what I have never considered, or even asked you all out there - is What about the person that graduated from University / College or anything alike. That age, that early 20's, high as a kite, ready for the world, scared as hell person. What would you tell them now? And about the real world, the world that can suck you up and rip you to shreds and at the same time let you feel and experience things that you quite possibly never even dreamed were true.
I graduated thinking I was the BOMB. And then i walked into my first day of work and met a group of people that had seen and lived so much more than I could have ever imagined. And it took me from feeling amazing all the way to feeling like the most insecure human possible - I couldn't even imagine or begin to imagine how this life thing would work out and how I could ever have thought i would be okay. And so I think of that girl, and what i would tell her today, especially knowing about how the eight years that have followed have gone.
And here is what i have managed to come up with.
Dear Me, you know the early 20 something version of me, that is totally in love with the wrong guy and 100% overwhelmed about how you will top that big moment that you just had as your University Valedictorian. Before I say too much, I should just start with a "it's going to be okay" and not in that parental, I have to tell you that to make you feel better kinda way, I mean it in the real way. After all I am looking at you from 8 years in the future, and girl you have no idea about HOW AMAZING your life is going to be. Now I am not one to sugar coat anything, so I will tell you point blank that at this very moment you are so overwhelmed with wanting everything and anything at once that you will lose yourself in it all. And you will spend years trying to figure it out. But that's okay. Because in attempting to figure it all out, you will test your limits, your boundaries, spread your wings and see some of the most beautiful places in the world and inspire more people than you will ever know. Your heart is what will keep people around you forever and your ability to just have some good banter and challenge everyone that comes into your life will act as the magnetic pull. You will meet tonnes of great people, fall in love a million times over, vie to see the best in everyone, let go of some friendships you thought would be around forever, but in the end at this 8 year mark, your life will be so beautiful, fresh, positive and full of more love than you can imagine. All the people, experiences, tears, laughs, moments of frustration will eventually bring you to a point, where you wake up get ready, walk out the door and take one deep breath and understand why everything happened as it did. It will all come together and you will understand that it was because you were so lost in the overwhelming feeling of entering this next phase of life that you wound up taking the journey you did. So that is what I want to tell you, dear 20 something version of me. It will be okay and all the things you dreamed about, even that fairy tale story, will happen. This universe thing has a funny way of working out and in all the mess, just smile and know that it's going to be okay - you just have to stay focused, strong and reminding yourself that you gotta enjoy all these adventures, because when that real realistic part of life, with the mortgage, kids and an annoying husband come into play you will lay awake escaping to these moments just to break away from those real life responsibilities. Don't give up and most of all don't be afraid to step away from it all, enjoy the moments where you can hear yourself and really allow yourself that first voice. If there is anything I can leave you with it is that - never stop listening to what your head, your heart and your mind are saying in one. Trust your instincts, because just like that valedictorian address you gave some time ago, when you believe and trust your gut dreams do come true. They really do. NOW SMILE, GO OUT THERE, SHAKE WHAT YOUR MOMMA GAVE YOU AND CONTINUE TO BE THAT DREAMER, OVERACHIEVER, WORLD SEEKER, GOOFY WOMAN that you are.
And that's that.
So now what would you tell that version of you? I challenge you all to slow it down, take some time to reflect and pen an old fashioned note to yourself and then fold it up, place it in a hiding spot and like a time capsule, give yourself some random timeline and then has a group in cyber space let's revisit those words some time away from now and relish at how wise we were and how much wiser we will become.
Here is to growing up, realizing our potentials and most of all letting go and starting a new in this fresh new year.