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Commentary : The Future Got Here Awfully Fast

<i> Heather Drew graduated last Wednesday from University High School in Irvine</i>

I could have told you what she was going to say before the words came out of her mouth. All graduation speeches are essentially the same, and I’ve heard enough to know that this particular one wasn’t going to be any different. But instead of tuning out, I listened closely and tried to figure out what she was really saying. This time the words were for me.

She cleared her throat and began her speech.

Seniors, our time has come. It is a time where we must cherish our past and celebrate our future. It is a time where we must use our skills and capabilities in order to emerge as free-spirited individuals.

The words, although impressive, aren’t my feelings about graduation. Instead, I wonder how I can be graduating when there remain assignments to complete, parties to go to and people to meet. I don’t even know the name of the boy who’s been sitting behind me in physics class all year. Instead of feeling our time has come, I feel I need more time.

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The graduation program contains many names of people I’ve never heard of. How could I have missed meeting everyone over the past four years? As for being a free spirit, sometimes I feel I still need more growing time before I can emerge as that.

When I was a freshman, the seniors seemed so much older. Can I seem that old to the freshmen now? I was so anxious about becoming a senior, but this year was not what I expected. I’m not even sure of what I did expect. I guess I only feel this way because I’m viewing things from a different perspective.

Looking back on the transition from junior high to high school, I realize that I had some of the same doubts and anxieties I have now. But, changes are inevitable and I was able to succeed then, so. . . .

Now is a time when we can look at ourselves and see that we have acquired and gained knowledge. Not only have we gained academic knowledge, but also a social knowledge. We have been instructed and trained, but now is the time when we must use our instincts to rise to new plateaus.

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But I’m giving up everything I’ve acquired in the past four years and starting from the beginning again. I don’t think the fact that I was assignment editor of my school magazine will impress anyone in college. Copy editor, friendship chairman, co-captain . . . all these leadership positions, and now I’m back to where I started . . . at the bottom.

I wonder what I will do when my boyfriend leaves in two weeks for the Air Force Academy, over 1,000 miles away, and then my closest friends depart for college as I stay at home to attend UC Irvine. I hope these relationships will withstand the strain of distance and absence. Yet, I know that the people who are important to me will never be lost.

I want desperately to hold on to the secure world I have, but part of me realizes it’s time to let go. . . .

Seniors, now is the time for us to face new challenges, new people and new frontiers. Just as we were able to grow and develop in the past, we must set a new goal for ourselves. It should be a goal to pursue our dreams and to seek new forms of wisdom.

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The responsibilities of going from the microcosm of high school to the real world overwhelm me. I wonder if the thousands of high school graduates throughout the nation, who are hearing the same type of graduation speech, feel the same burden placed upon them?

Our teachers, parents and relatives tell us that we are the future of this nation. But I question if this is the type of world I want to inherit. With such tragedies as the Space Shuttle explosion, Libya and the Chernobyl disaster, I don’t feel I am ready or independent enough to face the future and all its responsibilities.

I want to be all that they say I am, to live up to the high standards which they’ve set. I don’t know if I’m ready, but I do know that I will make a difference. My experiences at high school have taught me to be ambitious, dedicated and responsible, and the experiences of my past will carry me to my future. I shouldn’t be afraid of the anxiety and despair that I feel, because I realize that I will have times of both joy and pain, but in the end I will succeed. . . .

Yes, seniors, now is our time to blossom and our time to celebrate our emergence into society. We may once again experience the joy and the pain, but it will be well worth it since the fruits of our future will be bountiful. Seniors, it is our time, as the Class of 1986, to look to our future with a sense of pride and optimism, knowing that we possess the ingenuity to succeed.

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If endings symbolize beginnings, then why is it so hard to say goodby?


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