To the Graduating Class of 2015:
Eat the cupcake.
If I could offer you one piece of advice for the future, eat the cupcake would be it. There is a universal certainty for happiness when kids of all ages are given a cupcake. A miniature compilation of confection and creativity. Just thinking of cupcakes - the colors, shapes, styles, flavor, grandeur that may meet your lips - makes you smile. You’re smiling right now, aren’t you? And craving a glass of milk. See? Universal truth.
None of the advice that I have to offer will provide you with more #truth than the pure joy and satisfaction you will feel once you eat the cupcake. But I will try to dispense a few words here:
Be present in this moment. I know that is hard. The world teaches you to look toward the future. Not to stay put. But the future is unknown. And in all honesty, very few of us find ourselves staring into a future that we carved out and planned for ourselves. The beauty of the future is that you really just don’t know. My entire life can be summed up in the following sentence: It didn’t go as planned and that is okay.
Enjoy the journey. Who you meet, where you go, how you get there - that is what will truly define who you are. And the journey is what you will really remember.
Dance. And Sing. And Laugh.
Life is too short to be a negative person. And jaded negativity is only cool in your twenties. And even then, it gets old quick. It makes you hard to love. Even harder to like. Take your time and be jaded and then get over yourself. The sooner you do, the more clear life will become.
Be reckless with your heart only once. It’s important to allow your heart to truly be broken so that you are forced to put back together. This requires that you really & truly know yourself. And requires that you rely on yourself. Only you can completely know you. And you can’t spend your life looking for someone else to make you happy. You have to be able to do that. Be careful about giving your heart away too quickly and too often. You do not want to be so broken that the pieces barely fit back together or are so delicate that they may break at a mere bump. Use life’s disappointments to toughen yourself up.
There is power in failure. And in attempt. It reminds you that you are human.
Be a good person. You know if you are a good person. If you’re not, be one. Good people do things that don’t require notice, recognition or accolades. They pick up trash someone else left behind or open a door for someone with their hands full. They know the difference between right and wrong and they listen to the little voice inside of them consistently, even when it’s not so convenient or easy.
Good people smile.
Smiling is awesome exercise. And the prettiest people are happy people.
Don’t worry so much on societal definitions. Too often we get caught up in how the media and world define power, beauty, or success. All of these terms are relative. And subjective. Make your own definitions and live by your own rules. Once you learn to accept who you are for what you are, you will find a level of happiness that defies definitions.
Explore everything about the world you live in and the world around you. Know about other people, cultures and places. Don’t be narrow minded. Read. Everything. And think. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion & express it. But make sure that you listen more than you talk.
Voting is the single most important right and responsibility afforded to us. Don’t abdicate this responsibility to make decisions for your life or speak for you to anyone else.
William Shakespeare once said: The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
Don’t be afraid to give away your awesome.
The journey before you is long. And there will be times when you will stumble. There will be times when you will be fogged out. There will be times of complete clarity as you see the sun peak between the trees and there will be breathless moments that remind you of your humanity. Embrace them all. These are the stories your soul will tell.
Never doubt: You are kind. You are smart. You are important.
Congratulations, Class of 2015.
The world is yours. So eat the cupcake.