Thank you, mom, who taught me to believe. Thank you, dad, who taught me to be strong. Thank you, teachers, who taught me to think. And thank you, coaches, who taught me to be unstoppable.
Each and every day, we are presented with opportunities that may only present themselves for a brief moment in time. So, what happens when they slip through your fingers? What happens when that tinge of regret roots itself in the pit of your stomach in the form of “What If?” Who will be there to pull you to your feet and tell you that you are more than lost glimmers and more than your insecurities and doubts?
I can tell you one thing: they are all around you.
From the old woman with her eyes closed on the subway, to your best friend laughing hysterically at two in the morning, to your professor who assigned you that paper that drained you for three weeks straight. These are the individuals whose stories, experiences, and dreams you can rely on. Thank you.
These people encompass the vast system of connections that are meant to inspire your way to mental and physical success through happiness. So let them. Let them inspire you and push you to your breaking point so that you can stand up the next day and push the limits even farther. Because that is what you are here on this earth to do. To push boundaries. To break stereotypes. And to prove that you deserve every bit of the success that comes your way, even if it is disguised in the form of a rejection or momentary setback. Because to fail does not mean to lose in someone’s eyes, but rather to not give something your all. To walk away with more to give.
Years under the guidance my distance coach and martial arts instructor taught me that.
Some days you get punched in the face. Some days you win the lottery. Some days you get both slammed on your plate at once. It isn’t what you face each and every day, but rather how you handle it. Will you take the chance, the risk, the opportunity? Will you introduce yourself and take a stand?
These are the questions that your mind should say yes to in an instant. A flicker of a dream can burst into flame it you open up and breath. So listen.
Listen to your parents, your colleagues, and that random individual that you bumped into at the coffee shop. Listen to their stories, their wisdom and let it guide you, inspire you, and show you the world of possibility.
Walking to class at St. Lawrence University, it seems almost natural to run into someone and strike up a conversation immediately. You learn about someone else’s struggles and strife, their accomplishments and journeys they took to get there. You realize that you are not the only one who feels drowning in a sea of perfection. You are exposed to a world of beliefs and fresh starts. A world where everyone has a voice and a chance to see wonders beyond all imagination. This is the generation that will change the world if we look up, stand tall, and shout out loud from the rooftops. We are creators and scholars, friends and family, athletes and artists.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have influenced my journey through life and thank you to all those connections to come. Now we know that we can be heard, we can be strong, and we can conquer the world.
I’ll see you in the stars.