Here we are. May will be here soon. Next is the month of June, which means summer will be here before we know it.
There is something about this time of year. And there they are, the kids. Here comes the next generation, about to graduate, and be free to a whole new scene. God bless them.
Yet this year is different from most. This year will be different and laced with a sense of sadness. More than the lives we lost to the pandemic and more to the money we lost, more than the time we spent in quarantine and more than the stocks that crashed; there is an entire class that missed out on the end of their senior year.
One of my biggest regrets of my youth are the things I missed out on. I never went to prom. I never had a high school sweetheart.
I never took driver’s education and I never even stepped foot in the hallways of my high school—not unless you count the time I had summer school in 7th grade, which I hardly remember.
I never sat in a folding chair on the football field of the high school in my town, when the entire senior class was there with a cap and gown on.
I never had the chance to hear my name called and walk across a stage to grab my diploma.
I never had the chance to switch the tassel on my cap from one side to the other, or throw my cap in the air, to celebrate being part of the graduating class, senior year.
I see this and the world we live in now. I see the kids that will miss out on events like this. And I feel for them too.
I see this and in part, I am mad.
I am sad as well. I am heartbroken because I know what it feels like to sit with people and listen to them reminisce about events like prom and their high school graduation. Meanwhile, I never had that experience.
I see the kids today, and yes, I am sorry for what they will miss. However, I see them and I see the fact that the world is here at their doorstep.
In some ways, I hope they learned from us.
I hope this generation will learn to improve our country. I hope they will learn that life itself is offensive sometimes. So don’t be so quick to take everything personal.
The colors of my town’s high school were blue and gold. For years now, I have seen old friends share their graduation picture or their yearbook photos.
I don’t have these things. My direction split from this when I turned right instead of left. I missed out on this because of a few poor decisions. I missed out on the usual rites of teenage passage, which troubles me when I see others miss out as well.
I’ve been told that what I missed was only a tiny piece of what life has to offer, which I agree to.
Still, the piece I missed was real to me—this was very real to the point where I find the need to express myself now.
I see you. You are young. The world is literally at your door right now. I understand there was a theft of services here.
And I get it.
I never had the chance to enjoy that June morning with my parents in the stands or to hear my name called and have a diploma in my hands. But that was me. This is about you.
First, I want to acknowledge you. I want to acknowledge you because I admire you. I admire your youth.
I admire the things you will see and the brand new world that will be yours to change as you choose.
I want you to be ready for your life.
I want to arm you with everything you will need, which goes beyond the honor roll titles or even the basic education that comes with your graduation.
There is so much for you to see. You will learn and you will fall. You will see good things and bad things. You will feel so much, only to grow from what you’ve lived through. This is your new rite of passage and it cannot be taken away.
I wish I was there for you, to see you, and to cheer for you on the day of your graduation. And I want you to know that I am there because although you don’t know me and nor do I know you; I admire you.
I admire the feeling you will have when you sit in your first car and take that first drive to absolutely nowhere.
I admire the smiles you will have when you look back and see what you’ve achieved.
I want to be there when you realize what you’ve learned and what you want to be.
But please; above all things, do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid to try new things. Do not be afraid to stand apart from the crowd and stand strong as an individual.
Do not stop for anything. I want you to head straight towards your dreams because this will become you. I want you to understand this will be your whole new world.
Do not limit yourself to the draw of the crowd because at the end of the day, the crowd will dwindle, and there is only you, standing in front of the mirror to face your reflection. Your job from this day forward is to be proud of this reflection.
You are your own best advocate. Therefore, from this day forward, I would like to urge you to advocate for your future.
Do not be distracted by the hoaxes of political debates. Do not give way to social media know-it-alls that do nothing but look to destroy with their inaccurate views and ulterior motives. Do not be swayed by the popular opinion or any opinion for that matter.
At the end of the day, it is your job to face your reflection in the mirror. At the end of the day, it is your job to come to a constructive conclusion about you and your day.
If you find yourself in a position that makes it difficult to face your reflection; do not worry.
Rather than fear it or steer away, realize that you are equipped with the ability to improve at any given moment.
You can turn around, right now, and change your direction. You can change your intentions and you can change your dedication because of all things; the depth of your dedication is equivalent to the reach of your success.
This is why I implore you: Do not be afraid to reach for your dreams.
Do not go the way of others and fail to try.
Do not give into the distractions that life will offer you.
Do not veer away from your path.
Be absolutely who you are at all times and to the best of your ability.
This is you.
Do not shy away from your brilliance or your beauty—and oh yes, believe me; you are beautiful.
You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
You are the hope of my Nation’s future. You are the families that will inherit the land. You are more valuable than you might imagine right now—and for now, I suppose your dreams are fast-paced. I suppose the fun starts now, which it does. I am sure your aspirations will change with time but for now, please, allow me to finish.
Your life starts now.
This is bigger than any graduation gift. Although the gifts are nice—a new car maybe, a few new things for your dorm when you hit college—but more than any of them, is the gift you are given now.
This is your upcoming life.
This is everything you will ever have.
Be excited. Be ready.
Be aware that the world ahead of you might not always play by the rules but this does not change the fact that you can control the world ahead of you.
I am a grown man. I have never felt as alive as you might feel right now. I sit here, typing a thought to you.
I am an unknown friend with a tear in my eye because I know one undeniable truth. You are beautiful. You are everything. You are amazing. And all I ask is that you do not forget this.
I want to see you. I want to hear from you. I want to see pictures of you and your friends together, enjoying the summer—your entire life is ahead of you.
Your world has only begun. And if even for a minute, if you should doubt any of this or not see the beauty you possess, then by all means, please come find me. Find me whenever you need me because I have never seen anything as uniquely beautiful as you.
The world will be yours soon.
So please, from one friend to another:
Be careful with it
Be mindful of who you are.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and above all things… don’t be afraid to be first.