I Love Speaking

A couple weeks back I asked our Department Head if I may speak during our major-specific graduation celebration.

I have this part of myself that is overly confident and craves the momentary discomfort that accompanies the pursuit of one’s passions; the insecure parts of myself find this inconvenient.

When I was younger I didn’t often question myself before I gave a speech, if I had something that I felt strongly about I spoke naturally.

I remember the first instance I spoke — after I was finished I realized my eyes were wet as I looked upon the hoard of people whose expressions matched what I was feeling. I was 10 and the occasion was my parents’ wedding.

The love in the room encased all who sat or stood around me as I let myself speak honestly in front of everyone.

At the time, I knew that I loved connecting with people in this way. I felt most like myself.

Thinking about this memory helps me pursue my passion when I trick myself into feeling inadequate.

We can draw strength from our younger selves; they were less fearful than we are now.

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This is what I said that Friday afternoon:

I asked to speak today because it’s my way of thanking everyone here who has influenced me and made me a better person.

When I first came to Cal Poly I had a clear idea of what I was capable of and what my job here was.

I had to get perfect grades so I could one day save the world. Simple and easy.

I never imaged that I would be standing here telling you that my grades are not perfect and that there is no way I can save the world — but I have never been happier than this moment right now.

What I have learned from all of you is that this experience does not give us grades and inflated egos — it gives us wisdom.

We are not going to carry our diplomas in our pockets — BUT we will carry the wisdom we have seen and heard here.

Perfect example: I do not recall my grade on the Plant Prop Final last year, but I do remember that Dr. Hoover put inspirational quotes on the bottom of each page.

So often our professors provided us with encouragement so we may tackle challenges courageously.

They have given us freedom to prosper; helping us learn more about what we are truly capable of. This has led us all to where we are today, graduation.

It is humbling to be standing before you; each of you has inspired me in ways that have pushed me to better myself.

So many friendships have flourished during our years here; some expected, others not.

Admittedly, most of the people I have grown to respect and love I was skeptical of in the beginning. What can I say, Dr. Brown’s bluntness really cut through my euphemistic, I love everyone attitude — we had some good banter.

I realize now that I was threatened by people whom I actually admired.

When you let your ego get in the way of things — relationships, passions, vulnerability, etc., you miss out on opportunities.

Every day, we are given an infinite amount of opportunities to appreciate and foster our growth.

Maybe you meet someone who defies a belief you had, or maybe you find an exception to a rule you have created about the world around you. These moments are initially frustrating YES, because we must admit that we were wrong…

BUT I would rather be wrong and expand my perspective than be right and narrow it.

We MUST SEEK AND INVITE these moments that broaden our perspective. We must drop our pride shamelessly and live passionately.

My hope for you all — independent of age, credentials, qualifications, is that you never cease to seek vulnerability, because this lends to growth.

“The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates

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