My brother graduated yesterday, summa cum laude.
He was the valedictorian, gave the speech, and spoke on patriotism (and what we can do to be more patriotic, I think). This is a passion of his and I urge you to check out a group he founded: Society of 1776.
But I’d like to focus on something that, were I to graduate the valedictorian, I think I’d talk about (but who knows where I’ll be a year from now?).
Last year, after four years of fruitless competition in my speech and debate league, I finally broke to regionals. I was finally going to the next level. But I didn’t do well there and it felt like my first year. Everyone was better than me. And, after the tournament, after seeing all the people around me doing so much better, I was feeling like crap. But a sweet kid (who graduated that year) told me that my worth was not defined by my failure – or my success. (But, you know, I’m happy I did better this year with a 4th place and 6th place in debate, and semi-final ranking in my speech at all three tournaments.)
I think this applies to literally everything.
We are priceless by no achievement of ours. Nothing we do or don’t do can change how much we’re worth.
The queen of England, the president of the U.S., the emperor of China – none of these people are worth more than a child dying of starvation and disease in the streets of India.
Someone, though, way back when, thought it would be a good idea to measure someone by success, what they’ve been through, whether or not they have a piece of paper on their wall saying they went to college, the number of 0’s on their paycheck, the number of “friends” they have, what brand of mascara they use, and, and, and…
Guys, it’s a lie.
Don’t let anyone rank you according to these lists because your position on it will fall so far short of who you are. And you are amazing.
Know who you are before you go out into the world. If you don’t know who you are, people will tell you and it won’t be correct. I know the importance of this – I realized it when I started homeschooling after five years of public then private school. I wanted to be like everyone else. But I wasn’t.
And now I realize that’s because I’m better than that.
I realize now that those kids in school were so petty and I deserved more than running across the field to grab a forgotten lunch box (that probably wasn’t mine) to make people like me; I deserved more than judging myself based on the way I looked; I was more than where I did or didn’t shop; I was more than the shows I watched or the music I listened to (or was allowed to watch/listen to).
And so are you.
Take a step back, look at yourself objectively, and understand this truth please.
If everyone was okay with being themselves, this world would be a much better and honest place.
“Don’t be afraid to not like what everyone else pretends to love.” (Emma Watson said that, I think.)
You’re not defined by and your worth is not measured by your failures or your success. When we can get past that illusion, we can start living to be happy, to love, to glorify God.
This is my hope and prayer for you all.