I can truly say I have never been more proud of the person I see before me. While I have your last bit of attention before you head out into the great unknown, I want you to hear what I have to say.
I want you to take this time to slow down for just a moment. Get off the fast-speeding train that’s racing toward tomorrow, and just be here with me, for one more quiet minute.
Take a deep breath.
Then, take a look behind you. But don’t lose your footing; it’s a long way down to where you started. If you peer off into the distance, you’ll see yourself at age four or five sitting criss-cross applesauce with a book in your lap, fingers tracing along the patterns and trying to decipher their meaning. You’ll see your kindergarten teacher, wearing his standard socks, sandals and shorts. He’s smiling, he’s encouraging you and suddenly you can read!
You’ll see yourself learning to ride that first bike, or climb a rock wall for the first time, or shred on the guitar. If you can’t quite remember these moments, ask me someday and I’ll tell you all about them. These were the things we taught you when you were little, so you would embrace adventure and learn to the love the world around you.
The elementary school years flew by us so quickly. But they were the foothold of your education and you should know that your teachers all still remember your name and ask about you.
Now readjust your sight and peer over at those middle school days. Look at all you came through. Remember all the struggles, all the changes. But more than that, remember that you survived all of it. And this serves as proof you can get through anything.
Finally, look at where you’ve been the last three years. High school.
It was surely a blur of classes and teachers, brand new friendships and rekindled old ones, parties and punishments. There was love and heartbreak. There were successes and failures. Moments for tears and times for laughter, and entire days where you didn’t know how you’d get through to tomorrow.
But you’re here. Stand strong. Enjoy this one moment.
This is you, succeeding beyond even your own expectations. This is you, standing on the bedrock of your life and staring into the wide open future.
There will be more love, more heartbreak. More friends, and friends lost. There will be good times and bad times, and times where you wonder where the time went.
Sometimes that future will look bleak, or scary, or impossible. Sometimes it will seem that today is just like the next day, and the next day, and the next. But just keep moving forward, and the future will eventually brighten.
And if the future is ever looking discouraging, or the past is trying to pull you back, there is one thing that I ask you to try.
Look to the left, and then to the right. See us here? We are your friends. Your family. Your community. We are right here beside you.
Hold out your hand and grasp ours. We’ll be here. Someone will be there. Always.
Now take the next step.
I hear your life calling.
Jessica Peters is a reporter with the Chilliwack Progress.