I attended my sister’s high school graduation a few days ago, and I can’t believe how fast time always flies by. It’s been 11 years since mine to be exact and I feel as though those 11 years have just passed me by. In that span of time I managed to finish college and get a Master’s degree, yet I’m at a point where I still wonder why I’m here.
Growing up, I used to think that getting good grades, having medals and awards, would be my ticket to a successful future. I would be disappointed at myself if I wouldn’t be able to maintain certain averages, so I struggled to keep my standing every year. Graduating with honors is never an easy feat. Not unless you have photographic memory, can retain information like a hard drive, or are just naturally intelligent, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance.
I got to thinking about this since I listened to the Guest Speaker at the graduation ceremonies. She said that in the sea of graduates, the honor students are just the minority. In fact, the majority have the ability to make more difference. She talked about having dreams and ambitions, and that is actually what is important to be successful. I realize that she is right. Don’t get me wrong though, I applaud honor students, I think that the hard work and diligence they put in definitely merit praise. However, now that I’m in the real world, I feel as though the honors and awards only get us as much as an interview. The playing field evens out, and there are a whole lot of fish vying for that one worm. Real life is not graded in the way school does. The difference is that in school the end-goal is simply to be awarded with gold, silver or bronze, but in reality the goal is actually to be happy and satisfied with what you’re doing, even if you don’t have medals at all.
The gap between high school and college is an opportune time to really think about what one wants to be or do in the future. It’s a luxury that not many of us have. I, for one, had no idea what I really wanted to do when I finished high school. My decisions were mostly based on my abilities and skill-set, and not on ambitions and dreams. I envy those who had a clear idea of where they wanted to be and were bent on achieving them, that they started on the right track earlier than those like me who didn’t. But it is never really too late to dream.
The difference really is how we view success at different points in our life. This success is anchored on how we envision the future to be and what we do in order to realize that dream. It may change from chapter to chapter, in that what your idealist high school self imagined to be successful is not what success means to you at 27. Back then it used to be the awards, but now it’s more about happiness as a motivating factor. It’s not about money, or promotions, or positions. At the end of the day, it’s all about that sense of fulfillment and joy. It’s about being passionate in something that even if the rewards are meager, they are enough. There will be many mistakes along the way, but they will definitely be worth it.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014, may your tribe of dreamers increase!