Excerpts from a graduation speech - August 2014
I always wondered whether I would make it to this side of the podium. I desperately wanted to be here. At times my resolve was shaky and I didn’t think I could make it, but such moments ultimately strengthened my determination in the end. In these moments, I realized two things; I knew what I was like at my worst, and more importantly, I knew no matter how rough things got, I would always have my friends to offer a hand and help me get back on my feet.
One quote that comes to mind when I think about my journey here: “your car goes where your eyes go.” This is a reference from The Art of Racing in the Rain. It means that if you keep your eyes and your heart on the path ahead, you will not crash. It also makes clear that there will be times when you will lose traction and lose control of your vehicle. However, as long as you keep your eyes on the road ahead you will regain control of your car.
When I enrolled, I was stuck. I had crashed. With the help of my family and my friends here I am back in the race. More importantly, with the help of family and friends I know how to regain control the next time I lose traction. Ultimately I am not in control of what happens around me in the race, but I am in charge of how I drive and how I finish.
Mr. Clegg (my staff) pushed me to do things I had never done and gave me something I never had, confidence and pride in myself. He once told me “there is so much to live for on the other side of fear.” He pushed me to work against my fear which is the true meaning of bravery. Mr. Johnson (one of my staff) showed me a lot of the same things in a different way. His favorite quote is: “If you’re going to talk about it, be about it.” I could talk about my fears all day long, but only felt better when I did something about it. I am stronger now and I have you (Mr. Johnson) to thank for that.
I can’t leave without mentioning my group. You guys have been living with me, watching and helping me grow and change. I’ve never had friends like you. Friends are people who love you at your best and help you at your worst. You sat me down and told me when I was being an idiot. You weren’t willing to let me give up or stop trying. In the group I’ve learned that I can’t really get stronger without breaking down and admitting I’m weak. You guys did not make me brave. You gave me the opportunity to be brave… You didn’t make me confident, but gave me a million and one things to be proud of. Most importantly, you didn’t make me successful, instead you taught me to how to change from the inside out.