The thing about graduating from high school is that it is clearly an ending of one thing and the beginning of another. It's obvious, as you walk across the stage, shake the hand of some official or another, and accept your diploma that something has definitely ended, and something else has definitely begun... And that something -- we called it the future, because we lacked better terms -- was full of possibility.
The thing I did not know then, as I walked across the stage (hoping against hope that I wouldn't trip and fall, I might add) was this: you don't need ceremony to start fresh. You don't need a piece of paper to grant you permission to unlock the door to what's next. The ritual is lovely, but the truth is that every moment gives you the opportunity for a fresh start. Every second gives you the chance to choose who and what you will be.
At eighteen, I felt locked in to one kind of path. Let me be clear: that path did not, in any way, suck. It was a good one.
I didn't ... Exactly ... Follow it. I took some detours. I changed lanes.
For a really long time this made me feel like a failure.
I realize now, though, that the failure would have been marching unquestioning down the road I had paved. Refusing to see that there were other options, that there was more than one definition of success, and that the truth is that the anything -- anything! -- is, in fact, possible would have been a denial of the dream that we held to the day we graduated: that the future -- all futures -- belonged to us.
They still do.
To my beloved, amazing, wonderful classmates: today is yours. Tomorrow is as well. You are -- we are -- still phenomenal.
Let's do this.