So now’s the part where we start the rest of our lives. No pressure. Maybe it’ll make us feel better if we first take a second to think about all that’s happened in the past four years. I remember the trashcan fires of freshman year, the Evan Boehm/Heisman Award assembly of sophomore year and two snowpocalypses. I also remember Dr. Sharp’s first year and the naming of Bateman Hall, and one presidential election. Now we’re leaving high school at the marking of its tenth year, just like when most of us left Summit Lakes in its tenth year.
We’ve been through a lot, guys, and the life lessons we learned are just as important as the trig and Shakespeare, though no one tell the English department or Mrs. McWain I said that. For most of us, the past four years have been a time of learning to juggle many responsibilities in different parts of life–family situations, friends, academics, health problems, relationships, hobbies, activities, jobs, other financial obligations, and anything else we’ve been thrown. It hasn’t been perfect; more likely we’ve struggled, but through that we learned.
So now we have the truth: the way you live your life is up to you. Choose to live it in a way that makes you feel good, like you’re making something out of it. If that means being a hard-core academic, then make that your focus. If that means cultivating your artistic skillz, then make that your focus. Just make sure you’re still functioning as a tooth-brushing, breakfast-eating, necessary fun-having individual.
I’ve learned you should have a full life, but one where you can spend a couple nights watching movies or doing something spontaneous. Make your life purposeful and work hard, but take care of yourself and be a person too. A lot of us are burnt out. While work is a necessary and valuable part of life, it’s not directly related to success or happiness. Balance is what’s important, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break.
Talking to lots of successful people–graduates of Harvard, the University of Chicago and the IB program–I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend some time having no idea what you’re doing. So those of you with a giant, blank blob of future staring you in the face, you’re going to be alright. Some of the most enriching experiences they told me about include working on a beet farm and loafing around Paris being extremely poor. I know that’s not a life that many of you would like for yourselves, but just know that life will take many crazy turns. It’s like the glass elevator in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Stay genuine and try not to despair; the best parts of life often come as a surprise. You’re allowed to be scared but also be excited.