Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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Sometimes there are moments in life where we feel like the only thing left to do is find a way to let the words out. As a teacher, this happens to me often. I feel overwhelmed by certain thoughts, feelings and emotions and have to find a way to let those very thoughts and feelings live somewhere else. That is exactly what happened at the end of the school year as I prepared to reflect and deliver my message to the graduating class of 2022. A message for students, from a teacher to provide encouragement to students as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. While letters to students, are this teacher’s end of the year thing, I thought it would be best to share more of my thoughts here. Therefore, a letter to the graduating class of 2022.
Before I could even make it to my home office and my podcast recording set-up, I knew I needed to just go and let the words flow out of my mouth, straight from my heart. It was May 2022. Only a couple days after the devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. This teacher’s heart was absolutely broken. The past few years as a teacher have most definitely been challenging. But this. Another tragedy. Another shooting at a school. This was too much.
Therefore, I did what I do best and I just spoke. And what you are about to read here is the message I delivered to the voice notes app on my phone, sitting in my car, in the school parking lot. A bonus episode on The Best Day Podcast. A letter to students, a word of encouragement to the graduating class of 2022.
As a teacher who teaches seniors and as a human that is very passionate about encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. As well as someone who takes great honor and stride in using words to inspire hope. This message is something that means a whole lot to me. A letter to the Graduating Class of 2022 with words of wisdom and a heart full of encouragement as you embark on your journey to the rest of your life.
While I do teach high school seniors and released this very episode on the exact day of my group of senior’s high school graduation, what I do want to emphasize is that this message is intended to anyone at the crossroads. Anyone who finds themselves at a situation where one door is opening and one door is closing. Whether you are graduating from high school, or graduating from college, whether you have just completed a certificate for your endorsement. Or you are making a change from working a full time job to pursuing your own endeavor. This message is for you. The person at the crossroads. The person embarking on that next step, that next chapter!
There is hardship, there is tragedy. There are things that happen that make no sense. I know to each heart that is reading this, that you all have experienced your own road. Your own journey. For some that journey has been filled with immense sorrow and pain. While, for others’ your journey has not yet been that big of a mountain. But, through all of our lives, we will all face tragedy, difficulty, and pain. It will be hard. It will knock us down, kick us in the gut and make us question things.
After the tragedy at Uvalde, Texas, earlier this year, as a high school teacher, I felt absolutely heartbroken for the world that we live in. This letter to the graduating class of 2022, a letter to my students, comes from a place of brokenness for the tragedy of our world, but full of the hope for a better day. While there can be so many moments full of darkness, there can be equal moments of light! And it is on that note that I wish to address this graduating class of seniors.
We have got to do better as humans. Better for the future generations. Therefore, please know that this letter to students is coming from a heart that is wrecked. From a place where I can’t even begin to fathom what the families in Uvalde, Texas are walking through. The pain, the grief.
Before I share my heart, in this letter to the graduating class of 2022. I want to reach out and give you a virtual hug, hold your hand. I want to look at you in the eye and tell you that things can be hard, and be really hard and feel really scary. To tell you that things will get better. That this is not how things are supposed to go. To tell you that I am sorry for the pain that you might be experiencing, for any trauma you have walked through and any grief that you have sat with.
More importantly, I want you to have hope. More than anything, I want you to have hope. Graduating class of 2022, the world is heavy right now, but that does not mean you cannot be celebrated. That does not mean that we cannot sing your praises and send you off with the greatest celebration as you close one door and walk into the next.
Walking into this brand new chapter of your life is going to come with so many different emotions. Some of those emotions might be full of joy and excitement. Walking into the unknown with great triumph. But, for a lot of you those emotions come with fear and anxiety. They come with the unknown of what this next chapter is going to look like. It is going to bring so much change.
For a lot of your life, the last several years have been a place of comfort, of rest, of security. That is going to look a whole lot different in the next few months. I want you to know that you are strong, that you are capable. I want you to walk confident in the directions towards your dreams. To pursue your passions fiercely and abundantly, with all of your heart, all of your might, and all of your strength. Know that things are not always going to be easy. There will be days that feel hard, nights that feel harder, and weeks that just feel like an eternity. Through the hard you are strong, through the difficulty you can rise. And I want you to do that.
When things get hard, I want you to stand up! Even if it is a slow stand and you are slowing taking one foot to the next and holding on to all the support around you. I want you to stand and keep standing every single day. To know that you are capable, that you are destined for greatness. Know the significance of your passions and the things that you believe in. Know that your gifts and your talents are your gifts and talents for a purpose. Things that matter to you matter for a reason. Your voice matters, use your voice and do powerful and good things with it.
Look around at the world and envision a better one! Approach every single day with the tenacity to make the people and the world around you a better place. View every single conversation as an opportunity to make someone’s day better. To fearlessly, pursue what makes your soul go, what sets your heart on fire. Things will not always be easy. In fact, some of the greatest things in life are the most challenging. The things that result in the biggest reward, come from a place of the most effort.
Promise me this, that you will never, ever step back or walk away from a challenge because it seems to hard. You are able to do it! It might not happen the first try, it might take several tries. Owe it to yourself to keep on moving in the direction in which you hope to go. Trust yourself and trust the process. Remain committed and dedicated to your education, rather that is formal, or informal, or you are pursuing your gifts and talents in an area that is not a traditional university, or skill-set. Trust who you are and the process that you need to be the best possible version of yourself!
Do not shy away from the uncomfortable. If you have an opportunity, jump fully into the zone of discomfort. It is in the zone of discomfort that you will find the tools you need to grow and to blossom and become that next version of yourself that you need to get to in order to reach your next level in the destination of your dreams.
Cling to joy. Realize that there truly is something good in every single day! Some days you may have to look really, really hard. Nonetheless, there is good in every single day. It is there! Stress, anxiety, hard feelings they will all come, they all will happen. Don’t shy away from the hard things. Understand, that there is great power in who you are as a person. Use that great power in who you are to unlock change for the future. No action is ever too small, no voice is ever too quiet, no word is ever too meaningful.
Be empathetic. Be incredibly empathetic. Focus on how your actions might influence others. How can you help support the people around you. How can you truly impact the world around you so that tomorrow can be better than today.
Care so, so much about the world that you live in. Empathy is incredible and is one of the greatest resources we have within the human race to be able to think about others and try to rationalize what it might feel like to walk in another’s shoes. Do that and let that create change within your heart. Get involved and care. Make it a priority. Fight for what is right. Truly let this world be a place where every single person is treated with dignity and respect.
You are going to come into contact with people in your life that you might disagree with. Or, you may come into contact with people in your life who may see things completely differently. In those situations, it is so important that you respect one another, that even if you disagree, you find a common ground. That you realize that every single action has a consequence. Your actions need to be taken in strong steps and pride so that the world can respond in a better place.
Be consistent in your passions. Pursue your dreams fearlessly. Hold on to hope. Hold on to the belief that things can get better and know that you are a part of that change. Don’t ever think that you aren’t enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH! You matter. Your life matters.
I believe in the future. I believe in the generation that is walking right now, transitioning out of one season into the next. You have what it takes to unlock future success so that our children’s children can see a world with a whole lot more joy and a whole lot less pain.
Focus more on other people. Shift your gaze. If you find yourself living life focused on your selfish ambitions, take a moment and do a little heart check. Think to yourself, what can I do to switch this script, to turn the attention away from me to someone else.
If you find yourself having a bad day, what can you do to help someone else out? By focusing on the service, and helping someone else, that will create a joy in your heart that you need to be able to live well and thrive.
This life, while it is hard at some points, is full of many, many beautiful things. Moments that are worth every bit of the hard. You are going to have so many of those moments in your life. When you have those moments, hold tightly to them. Savor them. Let every once of love, peace, and joy, hold on to it and let it overflow your body.
Make every single day extraordinary, even through the ordinary. Support one another. Help each other out. Hold each other accountable for their actions and their words. Truly set each and every day up with the intention of making one other person’s day better. Don’t take moments for granted. Nor, waste away or wish time away. It is all going to go by really, really fast. Before you know it, this current chapter that you are walking into will become the next. Before we all know it we will be sitting at the end of our lives, looking back at the life that we lived, the journey we took, the road we traveled. We don’t want to be at that place wondering what if.
Live your life in a way that can create encouragement, that can foster community, that can replicate and spread joy. Care tremendously about the people in your life. About the people you come into contact with. Get involved. Care about your passions so that can impact people around you. Never, ever, underestimate your ability to make change. You may be one person, but that is one person with the potential for life-changing greatness.
Your life matters. You have a purpose. You will get there. Work hard, dream big, stay consistent and true to who you are. Embrace your zone of discomfort. Chase your dreams and passions with tenacity and see the world in the eyes of the future. Look towards the future with anticipation of the goodness for the things to come. You can do this. Your life has meaning, purpose and power. Go take on the world and make it a better place.