By Clay Sawatzke
Hello graduating class of 2012, and family, friends, and loved ones. First off, I want to thank you for the honor of having me here to speak at your commencement ceremony.
(Hears nothing but silence)
Wait, this is just appearing in the paper? Ah, shoot. Oh well, on with the show.
Class of 2012, it’s been an honor to cover you. You are by all accounts, a well-rounded group of smart students, creative artists, talented athletes and good people. You’ve given me great stories, great quotes, and even great joy throughout the year.
But while this may be a celebration of those exact stories, and so many other accomplishments, I’m here today to talk write to you about the future.
So many of you have left your mark on this school, and even this town, and that’s something to be proud of. But it’s not something to settle for. There is so much more to be accomplished. And if you hope to accomplish everything you deserve to, I have a couple of guidelines to push you along the path to success.
First, is to try different things. Those of you who are paying attention might remember I touched on this last year (and the importance of being active), but it’s so important that I want to reiterate it. I truly believe most people can’t be sure of what they love until they find out a few things they don’t love first. And what’s the best way to find what you love or don’t love? Try it.
Sure, other people can tell you what they think of
something. Your roommate can tell you that they hated that English class; your friend can let you know that band wasn’t for them, and a prospective teammate might even tell you that they don’t like your next coach.
But that’s their opinion, not yours. I’m asking of you, please form your own opinions in this life. Sure, they can and sometimes should be influenced by others. But, they need to be your own. And how do you come to your own conclusions? By trying things. Maybe you’ll find a special connection with the coach. Maybe your roommate doesn’t enjoy a great book, or writing, nearly as much as you will. And maybe your experience with band will be entirely different than your friend’s. And maybe it won’t.
But you won’t know till you try it.
Eventually, through trial and error, I hope you each stumble onto something you love. Which brings us to the second part of this speech column.
Sure, some of us will spend our entire lives drifting between new jobs, new activities, and new friends. Some people are meant to live that way; it’s how they’re wired.
But for the rest of us, we’re looking for something that we’re going to do for a lot of years. Now while you’re looking for that thing, that job, that husband or wife, that home, there are a lot of factors.
But I think one stands above all. Passion.
I cannot stress to you enough, graduates, how important it is to be passionate about what you do in life. I read, which is a great habit to develop and maintain by the way, that passion is the fuel that drives us. And I couldn’t agree more.
At the paper, I have a lot of late nights. Just last week I showed up at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and worked 24 of the next 29 hours. And to be honest with you, it wasn’t bad.
I love what I do. It often feels like something I get to do, not something I have to do.
When you’re passionate, you’re willing to put in the time. When you’re passionate, you strive for perfection. When you’re passionate, you become so much more capable of greatness.
And above all else, that is what I wish for each of you gathered here today. I wish you greatness in whatever it is you choose to dedicate yourself to.
Whether you strive to be a great dad, the next Oprah, or a great businessman or woman, I don’t know. And the beautiful thing is, most of you don’t either. So, go forth today, and try new things. Find things you love, and find things you hate.
But most of all, find your passion.