Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The High School Motivational Speech Noone Asked Me to Make
Some people like to exhort kids with, "You can be anything you want to be." This is usually followed with something like, "You can be a doctor or a lawyer, you can even be president if you want". I don't disagree with the gist of this message, but I think it might be better to take the focus off jobs and instead tell kids, "You can be anyone you want to be." In other words, "The kind of person you become is entirely up to you." That is and always will be more fully true than saying you can have any kind of career you want--the five foot two inch, slightly built boy isn't likely to make it as a defensive lineman, for example, nor the 6'3" husky man as a professional jockey. But whatever jobs may or may not be open to you in your particular society, the individual is always and everywhere the one who decides the kind of person he will become, and I think it might be more important for kids to hear that than to hear that they can become a lawyer if they want. My message would be, "You can become the sort of person who keeps his promises, or you can become the sort of person who breaks his word. You can become a man who abandons his children or one who does his best by them. You can become a woman who builds up her family or one who tears it down. You can become someone who betrays his friends or someone who shows loyalty. You can become someone who gossips maliciously and backbites or you can become someone who doesn't. It's all up to you. You determine who you become with all the choices you make every day. If you've made some bad choices in the past, today you get another choice--you get to decide if you will become the sort of person who is humble enough to admit wrong, learn from your mistakes, and correct them where possible or if you will be the sort who refuses to do any of that. Your choices, always. Who you will be is up to you."