I am not David Foster Wallace, but I found myself working on the speech during AP Micro this morning, and then again just now. After some tweaking, and learning our teacher isn't collecting it, I decided to just try and keep fleshing it out. It's still super raw and scattered (I also have no right to give a commencement speech to these children, being only 3 years older than the graduates themselves, and still experiencing growing pains of my own), but I decided to just go for it.
Congratulations on finally getting out of this place. You’re done with walking down the hallways in two lines, using “Silent Coyote” and borrowing hall passes to go to the bathroom. You’re done with field trips and midday snacks, coloring books and nap times. It is time for you to grow up. To become the person you were always meant to be, time to find yourself, right?
Sorry, folks, but if you think you’re done experiencing your growing pains, know that you’re not even close to being done with them yet. That odd quasi-adult, quasi-kid feeling is going to continue. There are times when you’ll get frustrated with it, and want to be an adult, which is probably the only side you see right now, but there will also be times when you wish you were a kid again. And you’re going to question everything you know to be true and it won’t at all feel like finding yourself, it’ll feel like losing yourself but that’s okay. They’re just growing pains.
This speech isn’t meant to demoralize you, but it also isn’t meant to comfort you. Life is gonna get harder, there’s no other way to put it. You’ve been sheltered from a lot of the crap in the world, and you’re going to have a bit of a rude awakening the first time you have an “adult” experience. And the same is gonna happen in four years when you go off to college. It doesn’t get easier, you just start worrying about different things.
You will need to get used to being mature and what that means for yourself. There will be no one to give you a gold star when you put all your crayons away, you’ll have to find motivation to do things within yourself. You won’t always get rewarded for doing things correctly, or punished for doing things incorrectly, but you’ll have more options. In time you’ll find that, as many opportunities as there will be for you to screw up, there will be just as many, if not more, to prove yourself.
You’re done worrying about coloring inside the lines and bringing in a box of tissues every school year, but semester final exams will become more common, failure will become more of a possibility. And your teachers in elementary school have done their bests to prepare you, but they can only do so much. In the end, it’s up to you.
So, again, congratulations on making it out of Bell alive and well, but be prepared for those rude awakenings. Remember that how you react to them is a reflection of who you are. I hope you are not discouraged, but inspired. Everyone experiences their own growing pains.
My apologies for the terrible formatting.