Several years ago, I wrote a blog post for several young ladies who were graduating high school. Now it’s my daughters turn, and it needs to be updated for so many reasons.
I can’t believe this day has come. Everyone said it goes by in the blink of an eye but until you experience it for yourself it’s impossible to really understand.
I’ve thought about this day ever since you started your junior year. Of course, I never could have imagined that our world would like this. While my heart breaks for you and every student in the Class of 2020 no one will ever forget you. In your future people will ask you what your graduation was like and how you felt. Trust me that doesn’t happen with any other graduating class.
But more importantly you have learned some life lessons amidst COVID that will indeed serve you well on your journey ahead.
There are no guarantees in life. None of us could ever have imagined that our world we be turned so upside down. We all assumed that you would be going to your prom, signing yearbooks, walking across the stage to receive your diploma and tossing your cap in the air. Quite honestly there are so many moments like those that we simply take for granted will happen because, well, for years they did happen. It’s nice to look forward to milestones but you and your classmates, along with all of us, realize now that there are no guarantees in life.
Roll with the punches. This is probably one of the most important lessons – resilience and the ability to course-correct. As we know in our family with the death of your brother when he was a baby, life doesn’t always go as planned. Natural disasters can destroy your home, jobs are lost, and illnesses happen. You’ve learned earlier than most people that in order to be happy you sometimes need to create a Plan B…and C and sometimes even D.
Live in the present moment. When you went to school that final day in March you had no idea that would be your last day of high school. If you had, you probably would have hugged your friends, said goodbye to your favorite teachers and took one last look around the halls. If you knew it was your last time on the mat as an All-Star cheerleader you probably would have hugged your teammates a little harder and took in the sounds of the applause a little longer. It’s so easy to get caught up in worrying about what’s going to happen next year or anticipating an event that you forget to take in the small present moments that might seem ordinary. Always remember that the journey along the way to your goal is filled with amazing and special instances.
Speak your truth. As if a pandemic weren’t enough to deal with during your graduation then came an act of brutality that highlighted the racism that still exists in this country. It made you and many others realize that we can no longer sit by but need to act. You and many of your friends are having important conversations about racism and are speaking your truth. I hope and pray that your generation will be the one to finally end this injustice.
It’s not all about you. You’ve learned through this pandemic that it’s not always about you. While COVID might not impact you, it could have deadly consequences for the elderly and people with underlying conditions. You didn’t think twice about wearing a mask and social distancing from your friends to help protect others. This despite the fact that being with your friends for your last months together is so important to people your age. In a world where many people are only concerned with how something impacts them, you have learned the importance of caring for others.
This has been a graduation like no other but I’m so incredibly proud of how you have embraced it. Let the celebration begin!