Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Graduation Speech 2020

I matter AND you matter


Every year I write a speech for 8th grade graduation.
This year, I decided to embrace vulnerability and share the speech with you.
There are some allusions that you may not have the full context for, but I hope the message is something you can relate to.
Here it goes:

Wow. Class of 2020, what a year!  As I sat down to write this speech, reflecting on all of you, on all of the things that are happening, two major themes came up:
The first, Mutual Respect.
The second, The power of your voice.

Not only are we in the middle of a global pandemic that's keeping us from celebrating together, but right now, in the media, we're seeing the next movement being born. RIGHT. NOW. Bernard Shaw coined this movement as, "A movement against hatred."  The 60s had the Civil Rights Movement.  This is OUR movement.  OURS. OUR generation's movement.  Yours and mine.  It is a movement that encompasses our CORE value of MUTUAL RESPECT.

At Indigo, we used Respect Groups, Project Cornerstone, and Communication Lab to teach interpersonal respect.  To teach the mutual respect between person to person.  This movement is certainly about that interpersonal, relational respect... in part... it is also a social, political, cultural, and economic movement.

But, I want to explore that first idea a little more.  The idea of mutual respect.  Mutual respect is about I matter AND you matter.

I matter.
AND
You matter.

I am important and worthy.
AND
You are important and worthy.

Black Lives Matter is not a movement that devalues any other race, experience, or perspective.  It is about using voice to call attention to a community of human beings who are continually being told explicitly and implicitly that they don't matter.

Me Too is not a movement that devalues men.  It is about calling attention to the ways in which women have been told by society that they don't matter.

Love Wins or Untold Pride is, again, about calling attention to the ways in which stereotypes and institutions have left the LGBTQ+ community marginalized.

Are you seeing the commonality?

I matter.
AND
You matter

I am important and worthy.
AND
You are important and worthy.

Speaking up for my worth does not in any way diminish your worth.

This brings me back to you and your experiences at Indigo, and in particular in 8th grade.  At least from my lens... At some point along the way, I think some of you lost your voice.  Someone expressed to you, either directly or indirectly that you don't matter.  Maybe you heard it so often, you started to believe them.  Maybe you thought it was normal (which let's look at the greater context of our society, it does seem pretty normal to be marginalized)... maybe you started to lose your path, you stopped trusting your gut because your friends, who you respect, talked you into something.  Peer pressure is so real.  It became easier to just, deal with it, laugh about it, go along with it, and maybe even participate in it.  Heck maybe you thought it was funny... at first...  But going through this with you left me reflecting on how I can become a better leader of our school system, a better coach, mentor, and when needed, a better enforcer of those core values.

BUT, I will say, I've seen growth, glimmers of hope.  Glimmers of where you understood the power of being an upstander, even when it's scary  Even when you feared retaliation.  There have been moments where you found your allies and spoke up.  This year alone, you grappled with bullying, racism, ageism, and even perfectionism.  And you began to find your voice.  Even if you didn't use it in the whole group context, I would venture to say you started to think about it.  You filed that information and checked in with "your gut."  You started asking yourself, what feels right?  As Keith said in his panel discussion, "how can I handle this assertively instead of passive-aggressively?"

Today, you look back and remember your experiences AND look forward to starting a new journey.  At some point today, and maybe during each other's speeches, you may experience excitement, anxiety, fear, anger, joy and sadness all at the same time.  And that's OKAY.  Emotions are okay.  They are indicators too what really matters to us - never forget that.  Today, I encourage you to embrace that vulnerability of understanding that fact - emotions are UNIVERSAL - it's what you choose to do with them that makes the difference. 

I hope you use those mindfulness tools (or maybe you've found your own set of tools) to allow yourself to understand the emotion, the trigger of the emotion, and to get yourself to a place where you can act instead of react.

The mindfulness tools are the tools that are helping me (personally) to:

  • Trust my gut and follow my passion
  • Be assertive for what I need and compassionate
  • Decide on a mutually respectful course of action
  • Get help and set boundaries when I need it.
  • Have courage
  • And to know that I am valuable   
AND 
so are you.

Class of 2020, I wish you the strength of character and the strength of voice to always remember that you matter... and so do they....


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Graduation Speech 2020

I matter AND you matter Every year I write a speech for 8th grade graduation. This year, I decided to embrace vulnerability and share th...