Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nick's Notes: Commencement

Since no one invited me to give a commencement speech this year, I'm going to selfishly use this soapbox to deliver one to all the high schoolers receiving their diplomas this spring.

The theme of my address is this: prepare yourselves to win, but brace yourselves to lose. I guarantee that each and everyone of you will lose in some way in the coming years.

Things will not go according to plan. Something will blindside you. Mistakes will be made. Things will change.
And that's all okay. I'll tell you why later.

Life will be different after you receive your diploma.
You will not have all the resources currently at your disposal.
Your classroom or workplace will not be as nice as nice as the Schwan's Regional Event Center or Legion Field.
You will work for a boss at some point who does not measure up to the coaches you had in high school.
You will lose touch with your current teammates, they will not always be there to help and support you like they did for the past few years.
You will not always have your parents on the sideline waiting for you with Gatorade and hugs, some days it will just be you.

I don't mean to scare you, but it's my job as a newspaper reporter to tell the truth. The truth is not always as rosy as we'd like to believe.
I do not have all the answers for a happy and successful life, but I do have some sports-writerly wisdom to help you get through those rocky times.

First, play your own game. Comparing yourself to other people is the quickest way to feeling like a loser. Some will find true love quicker than you. Some will seem more successful than you. Some others will make more money than you. You know what? It doesn't matter. You compete against yourself in life. A verse from Proverbs sums it up well, "Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city."

Second, focus on what's right in front of you.
Train yourself to look at life the way you look at the pitchers' windup when you are up to bat. Don't let the fear of missing out on things prevent you from doing anything. Life happens anyway.
Third, If you lose, don't confine yourself to the sidelines, keep showing up. Fail a test? Go back to class. Didn't get the job you wanted? Apply for another one. Break up with your significant other? Go somewhere and meet someone new.

It's easy to sit on your couch, binge on Netflix, and eat Doritos after you feel like life has chewed you up and spit you out. (This is fine to do every once in a while, but not all the time.) However, it's harder to dust yourself off and show your face again. That's the only way new doors open up for you.

Do not think you failed in life because you're hitting some speed bumps. Everyone hits speed bumps.
When you hit one of those, take a deep breath. You will heal. You will be OK.

Learn from your losses, celebrate your victories and call your mother. That's the best winning formula I know.

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