Class of 2020,
Let me be one of the 763 people who will likely give you advice. Bear with me.
What a wild ride. The light at the end of the tunnel, a.k.a. your senior year, has been a mess. You’ve all had to do it differently and you pulled it off beautifully. Without harsh complaining you rolled with the punches and did what you had to do. Bravo!
You have heard the words of wisdom passed down from those who went before you: “Work hard, study hard…this is the first day of the rest of your life…you can do anything you put your mind to…” ALL of those statements are completely true. However, my advice for you is something a little less flashy. My advice? Be kind.
Your life will have many ups and many downs. You will have individuals, both good and bad, come in and out of your life. Both types will teach you valuable lessons that you can only learn through the often painful experiences that come with your journey. Never-the-less, be kind.
Let me define that so my intent is not misunderstood. Being kind does not mean be weak. Always stand up for yourself and others. Being kind doesn’t mean give too much of yourself away. It’s okay to help everyone, including yourself. Being kind doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard and be competitive. Just be good to people on your way up, because you’ll see them again on your way down.
So what do I mean? Being kind, in its simplest form, means extending a hand of compassion and understanding to anyone, within reason, without the expectation of receiving anything in return. See the world through the eyes of your friend, your neighbor, AND yourself. Remain true to who you are without condemning anyone for doing just that. Many, many things in life will turn around and “bite” you in the tookus, but being kind will never be one of those things.
Lastly, take a moment to stand with your fellow classmates. You’ll never again be in this moment, just as you are, with them again. You’ll keep in touch and you’ll always wish each other well, but you will never be the same people you are now. You’ll grow, learn, love, laugh, cry, and succeed… and you’ll be changed forever because of it. But for this moment, stand with your classmates, eye-to-eye, and remember this moment. Keep that memory in your heart and I guarantee it will linger with you…oddly enough, a little bit like a virus.
Until next week, I hope you find something new here in Blount County. It’s a good old place to call home.