The cliched wisdom of a recent high school graduate
Last Friday, I graduated from high school.
That seven-word sentence seems simple on a surface level, but it actually contains quite a perplexing truth. They say that time flies, and we brush it off as another cliché, but Ive found that its incredibly true.
At the graduation ceremony, I had the opportunity to be one of the student speakers, so I was able to impart some of my wisdom (not really) to the class of 2016.
Standing on the stage, looking out into the sea of faces, I began to feel simultaneously sad about the thought of not seeing some of my peers anymore and excited for the future. I also felt strange looking out into the sea of people because of the difficulty of discerning any one face from the crowd. As I was speaking, I was thinking about all the faces in the crowd that I didnt know.
During my four years of high school, I made friends, but I also missed the opportunity to know so many great people. I guess its impossible to know everyone, but I still wish Id been able to know and speak to more people.
This desire to know more people really came to fruition when I dropped into several graduation parties the other day. As I walked out of the parties, I realized that it would be the last time I would see certain people classmates I wouldnt talk to outside of school but who I routinely saw every day at school.
I felt overwhelmed, like I feel when I walk into Powells or another bookstore and gaze over the plethora of books on the shelves. In a bookstore, Im always thinking about how I can never read all the books in the world, and, similarly, walking out of graduation parties, I was thinking about how I couldve never known all the people I wanted to know in high school.
Still, clichés have taught me well, for I ultimately believe in quality over quantity, and I value a few good friends over many acquaintances.
When I was looking out into the crowd, I further understood the quality-over-quantity argument. I understood that the point of high school had been the opposite of crowds: individuals.
In my speech, I spoke about my shy, younger self and how empathy is powerful and can retrieve us from darker times. I did not, however, speak about the power of the individual and the impact one person can have on another.
One person can make all the difference. One teacher, one educator, one friend or one parent can make all the difference. I say this from first-hand experience, for, before I could call myself a writer, I needed my freshman English teacher to believe in my clumsy words and grammatically incorrect sentences. Before I had the confidence to let the entire class of 2016 listen to my words, I needed my friend to tell me that shed always be there to listen to what I had to say.
I guess what I want to say now is that individuals have made the difference in my high school experience. As much as I wanted to know all my teachers and every person in the class of 2016, I feel glad to have known a few outstanding individuals.
So, without rambling on further, Ill leave you with the sage advice of a recent high school graduate: Appreciate the crowd and feel its grandness, but never forget the individual.
Remember those who believed in you when you didnt believe in yourself, and surrender to the infinite wisdom of clichés.