Anxiety Graduation Speech Posted May 26, 2022

Greetings... Class of 2023. My apologies for running a bit late on this.

You see, I just came back from a crisis center. I honestly should’ve stayed at a hospital, but I opted to schedule a bunch of counseling sessions and psychiatric care appointments instead. This may come as a surprise if you have read any of my recent posts, but there was – indeed – a point when I considered any of my past successes to be for naught. All those lives that I apparently saved? Coincidences. All that creative content I produced? A waste of time. All those accomplishments I achieved in business management and ministry? HA! I would’ve traded them all for a bag of roasted peanuts.

Thankfully my counselor was able to convince me otherwise… or at the very least make me accept that they were meaningful at face value. I suppose a shadow being cast on a wall just before a nuclear bomb goes off counts as something. Aside from that, I have not the slightest idea what’s going to work out for you and what won’t. All I have are just the barest scraps of advice which are probably already obvious to you and hardly inspiring at all. It’s probably even less useful than your actual grad speaker’s speech. Nevertheless, here is my feeble contribution to your future development:

Keep going.

Don’t stop once you’re at the end of the stage. Keep going.

Where, you may be asking? That’s not important. Just keep going. Even when things get bad. Even when it’s not quantifiable. Even when it makes no sense whatsoever. Keep going!

I recently applied to be an assistant manager at a restaurant, despite being convinced that it was outside my depth. I got hired somehow, but I knew I was just buying time until a more fitting job came along. I struggled to the point where I was coming home crying every night. The day I received counseling, I texted my boss and said there was no way this job was going to work out. She didn’t respond, so I reluctantly visited the restaurant the following day. Both the general manager and the regional manager were there and talked a great deal about my potential. Coincidentally, this took place on the day when my restaurant was going through a competition where the winner of the local food-making contest would go on to the regionals. Even with me in an unstable condition and half-heartedly trying, I ended up taking second place… with the only other assistant manager beating me. Nearly a week later, my general manager expressed “faith” that I could handle the restaurant by myself. And that I did.

So I can be wrong sometimes. Who knew? In fact, who is to say that any of us are always right? Who is to say that any of us have things figured out? The future is never certain, but it’s not something you have to dread either. The future is full of surprises; Surprises that you can appreciate, savor, and cherish. Surprises that can make you laugh, cry, and feel alive. Surprises that can enrich your life, broaden your horizons, and deepen your connections. That’s not to discount the possibilities of making mistakes, failing miserably, and embarrassing yourself. But if you are still here, you can still grow and you can still persevere. The future isn’t always about what happens to you but what you make happen.

So make those stories. Make those memories. Make those developments. Because your future is not a burden…

It is a gift.

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