Shakespeare once said that there is a tide in the affairs of man. Each person sitting before me is their own unique spirit fused with a beautiful mind. You all have your own ideas, hopes, and dreams to offer the world. When you were younger, these dreams were not confined by social norms, expectations, and a lack of confidence. They were free to fly with imagination. Now that we are older, we’ve been programed to think realistically and are hindered by the fear of failure. But failure is only the precursor to success. And realism… Well, realism is just overrated. My dad use to say that there is no real failure. You either do what you’ve learned it takes to succeed or succeed at doing exactly what it takes to fail. If there is real failure, it’s in not learning from your mistakes.
This next chapter in our life has not been written. Up until this point, most of our chapters were written by our parents and guardians. In high school we tried to steal the pen to write a couple of chapters of our own. You know, the chapters you keep secret from your parents. However, now we are the sole holders of the pen and the fact is that we all have a limited number of page left to write. No one knows exactly how many, unless, of course, you’re Alice from Twilight. Each day wasted on being afraid to go after what you truly want or sitting on the couch waiting on life to hand you opportunities is one less page you have to fill with the satisfaction of success.
When you walk across this stage tonight, you are not only accepting your diploma. You are accepting the responsibility of writing your own story. You can either choose to write yourself as the hero or write yourself as the victim. Regardless you will be faced with the villains we call fear, negativity, and doubt. The difference is, the victims allow them self to be defeated by these antagonist while the heroes are so relentless in their pursuit of success that they will conquer them.
So conquer fear. I will bet the $10 I have left on my debt card that you will struggle. You may face times where life kicks you so hard, you bleed. Unfortunately some of you already have struggles more than most people will know, more than what any 18 year old should have to deal with. But you cannot allow the fear of experiencing challenges cripple you in your quest for success, because in the face of adversity comes strength and new opportunities. If you’re going to fear anything, fear the regret of not reaching your true potential from a lack of trying.
Conquer negativity. There are going to be people who won’t see your vision. They won't believe in you the way you hope. Some will even try to convince you that you’re not good enough. But you must hold tightly unto the belief that you are good enough. Because make no mistake about it, the most damaging voice of negativity is you own. The only person who can stop you is yourself.
And lastly conquer doubt. You have all that you need to be successful as long as you have faith in yourself and the initiative to put action to ideas. Once you have cleansed yourself of doubtful thinking, the possibilities are endless. You will be able to set tides with ideas, hopes, and dreams.
"There is a tide in the affairs of man which taken at the flood leads to fortune." - William Shakespeare
You are the author of your own destiny. So write yourself as the hero, the victor, the character that sets tides, and lead your generation to prosperity. We are the class of 2015. Let’s turn up and write a story nothing short of extraordinary.
Aminah Matthews, a member of the Rockdale County High School Class of 2015, was selected to provide the inspirational message at the RCHS commencement on May 29, 2015.