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I have lived many years and seen my daughter do many things, and I have never been prouder of Erika than I am today. Congratulations graduating class of 2015! I welcome you, friends and family, to honor Erika’s achievement with me. From the first time I held you into my arms, to today, the day of your high school graduation, I’ve watched in awe as you became the beautiful young woman before us. As you move on to bigger and better things, I would like bestow upon you a few things I wish someone had told me. Almost nothing you decide today will truly last for the rest of your life. Never be afraid to ask for help. Always give yourself the permission to be happy.
As you’ve made your way through these last two years of your high school education, you’ve probably heard from every teacher, guidance counselor, and stranger on the street that it is important for you to decide what you want to do with your life right now. Don’t believe them. 80% of all students change their major at least once, and others change majors as many as three times. Even when you have children of your own, even when you are old and gray, you can still go back to school. It will never be too late to realize what you want to do with your life. That said, don’t sweat it. College is supposed to be a time of change and self-discovery in your life. Never limit your horizons based on the idea that what you study now will be your lifelong career. Remember that you always have the power to change your life.
The best part about college is being treated as an adult. The worst part about college is being treated as an adult. College is intimidating. Sometimes you will struggle, and that is okay. No one expects you to be able to file your taxes or ace every single class or be the best of the best of the best. Everyone around you is doing the exact same thing you are, and there is no shame in reaching out. Throughout most of your life, teachers have hyped college as THE REAL WORLD, but it’s just more school. Your peers and professors want you to succeed, and want to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to let them. No matter what consequence you believe is waiting on the other side, I promise the reward is greater.
In the stress of college, it can be very easy to work yourself into a fever over money or grades. It’s perfectly normal to be worried, but remember to let yourself be happy. A three week supply of hot chocolate and marshmallows can be purchased for less than three dollars. A movie night is free if you rent from the library. Always remember to reward yourself for your work, or you’ll quickly feel like you’re treading water. You should absolutely work hard at having good grades. You should also play at least as hard as you work. Don’t take your life too seriously. Relax. Treat yourself.
I love you Erika, and I am so proud of what you have achieved. So here’s to you Erika, may every day of your life be a new adventure.
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