It's time for more fun with Write . . . Edit . . . Publish! Thank you to Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey, Olga Godim, and Nilanjana Bose for making this event possible!
The theme for this month is Road Less Traveled. Let's get to it.
Transcript of Graduation Speech
Robert Frost High School
May 27, 2018
Good afternoon graduates, family, and friends. When I was invited to be the guest speaker, I didn’t know what to talk about. I’ve become well-known for being a bit of a rebel. I got my big break because of a viral YouTube video, which to be honest, showed me in a bit of an unflattering light. Talking about how to make a name for yourself professionally after being caught performing acrobatic feats in a shopping mall while intoxicated may make for a memorable speech, but it’s hardly appropriate for a high school setting. It was wicked fun, though.
To help me come up with ideas for an appropriate speech, I looked to your class motto “The Road Less Traveled.” It makes sense given the name of your soon-to-be alma mater. I’m betting this theme has been touched upon by numerous classes that came before you and will continue to be used long into the future. You may even be sick of hearing it after all these years and chose it out of a sense of obligation. It pays tribute to your school, after all. It also fits the theme of the day.
Graduating means choosing a new path to take in life, and this is bound to be the first real decision in that regard most of you have made. Up until now, you’ve been at the whim of your parents. That helplessness may have come with a sense of frustration as you yearned to spread your wings and soar, but it also brought with it a sense of security. You’ve had people to catch you when you fall. You knew which steps to take next. You’ve gone from one grade to the next, safe in the knowledge of what you needed to do. Go to class. Get good grades. Choose an extracurricular activity or two. Find an after-school job. There were elements of choice sprinkled throughout, of course, but failure didn’t necessarily spell disaster, no matter how much it may have felt that way.
Gearing up to go into the larger world, though. That’s when consequences really start to feel real. When I was your age, I was shaking in my shorts with anxiety, though I played it cool. The sheer number of options and lack of guarantees seem daunting. Still, you can look to others and seek advice from the adults in your life. You’ll hear plenty of people suggesting you attend a certain college and study a certain field that has proven to be lucrative. Others will suggest studying a trade or following in the footsteps of family members. Which path should you follow?
People always suggest out-of-the-box thinking, but they usually want you to do it within the confines of a normal, comfortable career. Maybe you find that path appealing, or maybe it seems too confining for you. Perhaps you hear the stories of successful entrepreneurs who bucked the system and got mega rich, as I unintentionally did, and feel inspired to go that route. And why not? The comfortable, safe careers are still subject to economic downturns and shifts in consumer demographics and moods. The safe careers can also result in you being kicked to the curb with little warning, which runs counter to the reasons many give for choosing those career paths in the first place.
So yeah, why not get onto the road less traveled and hack your way through the underbrush to create a life for yourself? I’ll give you one good reason not to do it. It’s hard. Really, really hard.
There’s a reason the road less traveled is designated as such. It’s a desolate place to be. A dangerous place with even less guarantee of success or safety as the more stable, so-called respectable career paths. This road less traveled is overgrown with obstacles that can twist your metaphorical ankle and leave you hobbling and at the mercy of vultures who would happily pick the flesh from your bones.
Great imagery, right?
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go that route if you feel you must. It still might be the right option for you. Not all of us fit happily into the molds well-worn paths would have us live in. Some of us royally suck at being normal. I know I do. However, if you’re going to take the road less travelled, you need to be prepared for failure.
Failure is not an abstract concept in the real world. It’s a legitimate, and even likely, possibility with painful consequences. Everything costs money, and when you run out of money, needless to say, it can put a crimp in your life. You need to embrace the possibility of massive failure and everything that comes with it. You need to be ready to push through terrible circumstances and learn from them so you can stand on your own two feet again. That failure can be a badge of honor if you’re strong enough to bounce back from it. Sure, it feels crappy and makes you want to quit, but that’s part of life.
So yeah, do what you think is best for you, and be prepared for life to chew you up and spit you out from time to time. Does this count as an inspirational speech? Probably not, but I never aspired to be an inspiring person. Shi . . . I mean, heck, I used to be the cautionary tale parents used to keep their kids in line. Look at me now! Don’t let past screw-ups keep you down.
Bearing that in mind, what do you think the odds are of me being invited back to speak next year?
Word Count: 960