Each Bert Show cast member has written their own speech, filled with pearls of wisdom they want to impart.
Yesterday, Jeff talked about his ride through life – and how you should look at yours, and today, Kristin’s got some mad respect for everyone graduating:
I can’t begin to convey how genuinely excited I am for all of you. I have to be honest, I have stressed myself out about this speech because I realize what a monumental moment this is for you and for your families.
It’s a milestone that you will never forget.
I thought about this speech, and what I wanted it to mean. I definitely didn’t want to lecture you. I didn’t really want to use all the typical clichés and quotes. So that pretty much left me with nothing. Then I thought, what if I confided into this class of 2013? What if I admitted to my mistakes? Terrifying, but hopefully helpful.
Now, just because I’m about to divulge all the things I screwed up, doesn’t mean I don’t think you are now safe from ever making a mistake. Mistakes in life are inevitable. Because nobody in this room is perfect, nor should they ever claim to be.
Mistakes have made us who we are, and who we will be. The only thing worse than making that mistake, is not learning from it.
First, my 4 year stint at the University of Kentucky quickly turned to 5 years (parents it’s OK to cringe here as I realize how expensive tuition is.) And the look on my mom and dad’s face when I told them I was taking a semester off to “find myself. I thought that by taking that one semester off, it would help me focus, I’d get better motivated, but who was I kidding, I was lying to myself and everyone around me. And, shocker, I never did “find myself.”
My parents didn’t think I would go back, my college advisor didn’t think I would go back. My friends didn’t even think I would finish and get my degree. That semester off, it was a mistake. I didn’t find focus, I didn’t find motivation. Those were my excuses, the truth, I was being a slacker, and I couldn’t handle the pressure.
But I did go back. And I did finish. And I did graduate. Took an extra year but I did it. So why did I go back? Partly because everybody doubted me and said I wouldn’t. I went back and got my degree to prove to those who doubted me they were wrong about me, but in the process I ended up proving to myself I could do it.
You’re not judged on your failures, but your resiliency and how you overcome failure. True character is not what you are dealt, but how you handle what you are dealt. And I went back and graduated, and I hugged that same college advisor on stage as she said “I didn’t think you’d do it” while she handed me my diploma.
Next, for the young women graduating today, stay away from guys named Josh or Chris. Oh, and guys named Alan…and Jason…And if your name is Josh, Chris, Alan, Jason, I apologize…kinda.
For the young men graduating today, treat the women in your life with respect. And not just the romantic relationships, but all of your relationships. That means your mother, grandmother, sister, fellow student, co-worker and your girlfriend. I said respect, not princess, there’s a difference. And yes, respect is a two way street. Ladies, this applies to us as well. In life, respect will get you so much further, and will help you in building bridges rather than burning them. Plus, at the end of the day, you will know you are the better person for having done so. It’s not easy, if it was, Aretha wouldn’t have written a song about it.
Lastly, my biggest mistake. I became a Freshman in college and got that first taste of freedom. I could set my own curfew, I could eat
whatever and whenever I wanted. The independence was addictive. So addictive, I began to neglect my family. I stopped calling, I stopped visiting. I had a new life. The people who had supported me for 18 years, who were providing me with a higher education, and I was cutting them out of my life. They were annoying; they asked too many questions, I didn’t have time for them. It still pains me to think what my mom endured, because it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right.
After you graduate from High School is when you learn how to stand on your own two feet for the first time, which makes you think you can run from your family as fast as you can. But if there’s one thing I’ll take with me for as long as I live is that family IS everything, and then there’s everything else. I made a mistake and I will never push them away again.
Granted, I wouldn’t take one of these mistakes back. Because I wouldn’t be as determined and focused on my goals now. I wouldn’t be as appreciative of my family. I wouldn’t be standing here today giving you this speech.
To all the parents, you already know what I’m talking about. But please remember, until we make our own mistakes, we’ll never take away the life lessons we so desperately need to mold us into the contributing citizens of the world that we need to be.
So I didn’t get thru this speech without a little bit of lecturing and a few clichés. Bottom line, have a blast. Have so much fun. Party hard, study hard, work hard. But make sure at the end of the day you can still be proud of yourself and proud of what you have done. And if you’re not, it just means you have something to work on tomorrow.