My Dearest Graduate,
Congratulations! Such a milestone—finishing high school. Your grace and poise and unrivaled work ethic is such a rarity these days. How proud your parents must be; your extended family, the ones you love, the fortunate ones who call you friend—how proud, but not surprised…not at all.
I know I don’t have to tell you of my unending admiration and love for you, for that passionate heart and that virtuous soul which holds such wisdom already for one so young. Those feelings for you, I wear on my sleeve. Anyone who knows me knows of the deep and abiding love I have for you. No, I don’t think I have to remind you of that here. However, there IS something I want to tell you, something I want you to know before you leave on a day in August that will be mixed with melancholy and pride and excitement and a missing-you-feeling that will begin the moment you drive down our driveway and off to your new adventure. I need to tell you. It is important.
You are enough. You are worthy, so very worthy.
You are worthy of an intellectual journey. Drink in all that your professors have to say. Take advantage of educational experiences abroad. Join clubs. Act, sing, dance—Grab those four years of literacy, mathematics, history and science and squeeze the life out of them. You are worthy my dear of the best that education can offer. Your brain is capable, your thoughts valuable, your contributions endless and needed. Yes sweet girl, you are worthy.
You are worthy of loyalty and love without compromise. As you move into adulthood make a promise to yourself that you will seek out those who see your value, who know your goodness, who build you up and would never tear you down. When you find them, hold onto them, because you see they are scarce in this world. But scarcity does not mean that you settle. You will need those that are true to you on your life course. You are worthy of nothing less. Never ever accept anyone who isn’t keenly aware and fiercely protective of your worth.
You are worthy of finding your purpose. Take your time. Let it come. There is no rush. Experience life to the fullest, try new things and someday…there it will be…your reason, your destiny. And whatever it is that you find, you are worthy of exploring it to its highest possibility. Don’t let anything stand in the way of who you want to become, of your earthly purpose. If you fulfill that, everything else will fall into place.
You are worthy of self-interest. My sweet girl, in all my 44 years, I have never met a human being whose empathy is as profound as yours. Your acceptance of all no matter—no matter-- is something to be celebrated indeed, but be sure it doesn’t cost you more than you can pay—your sanity, your peace of mind, your ability to do what you want to do, see what you want to see, go where you want to go. The selflessness that you carry within you is admirable, but let me suggest or even urge that over the next few years, as you enter into adulthood that you remember to put yourself first more often than you do now. You and your needs are worth it. Rumi says to “Respond to any call that excites your spirit.” This quote should be the battle cry of the young! I am certainly not saying “go ahead and be selfish,” for I know you too well and it just couldn’t ever happen. I am simply saying that words like “what is it that I want for myself?” and “I won’t take part in what wouldn’t be good for what I need right now,” are words that should move to the forefront of that beautiful mind of yours. Believe me, when you start your career, when you marry, when you have children, when your parents age there will be plenty of moments where selflessness and sacrifice will be necessities and must-do’s. But at 18…it is perfectly ok to do what is best for you. Don’t ever forget that that doing for yourself is something in which you are worthy.
Graduating high school is a milestone, but it brings with it both the good and the bad. The good, of course, is that you are on your way! Where? Who knows and how absolutely marvelous is that? Oh the possibilities. However the downside of taking small steps towards adulthood is that you lose a bit of the protection one affords to a “child.” It will be time now for you to fight your battles. It will be time for you to decide your daily routine, your nightly routine. It will be up to you to make moral and capable decision about who you associate yourself with, where you decide to go and the situations in which you put yourself. And that is why knowing your worth is unambiguously essential.
When friends turn on you (and they will) you may not even know why, but if you know you are worthy of true friendship, it will be easier to face the sting of rejection and hold your head as high as your standards.
When your heart is broken or love leaves, knowing your worth may not take the emptiness away, but it will reassure you that someday someone else will come along. After all you are worth love.
When a chance comes along, one that may take sacrifice, but is too good to pass up, you will go for it with the knowledge that you are worthy of the chance.
When you doubt yourself, when you stumble and make a mistake it will be your feelings of worth that will help you to brush yourself off and try again. You have to feel worthy enough to persevere even in the face of impossible odds.
And finally my marvelous, magnificent, miraculous girl, you must feel worthy about yourself because when it comes right down to it…down to the nitty gritty…YOU are all you’ve got. Despite what the fairy tales tell us, there are NO knights in shining armor whose sole purpose is to rescue damsels in distress, no princes on white horses, no magical fairy godmothers. You only have you and your sense of self-worth to get you to where you want to travel, to pull you up by the boot straps when you slip and fall. Only your worthy self can turn your saddest days into happy ones, and your darkest places into light. My sweet girl for your future you must rely on yourself. So I have just one question: Are you WORTH it?