Time to Turn the Tassel: Our next chapters are ready to be written

By: Austin Anderson

We made it. The moment that some of us never thought would actually arrive is here; we are graduating.

The dozens of fresh pencils that started in our backpacks at the beginning of the year but have long since collected in the  bottom of our lifeless lockers  or on the floors of dirty hallways no longer matter. The boulder-esque text books residing in our backpacks can be returned, lifting what seems like the weight of the world off our shoulders. And what used to be an avid attempt to avoid the piercing glare from teachers that are received after walking in after the all too familiar tardy bell has sounded, can now be turned into a sly smile at a passing educator because even after years of forced detentions, homework and studying,  there’s not a damn thing they can do anymore. In other words, to quote the legendary Alice Cooper, “No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks.”

All of this is true, unless, of course, you plan on heading to college anytime soon.

High school is over, but now it is time for the “real world.” Because the first 18 years of our lives apparently weren’t real and didn’t actually exist. Nevertheless, the next chapter in our lives is undoubtedly beginning. Internationally renowned psychologist, lecturer and author, Irene Kassorla said, “You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.” That essentially translates to “You are the author of your own story.”

Just like all stories, our life stories have had great times like hanging out with friends, making memories and participating in activities. There have also been the more challenging times in our lives, such as choosing what instagram filter to use. As well as actual challenges that we have had to overcome that have brought us closer together as the class of 2015. But our stories, like every single book that’s ever been read and every single movie that’s ever been watched, have had problems and obstacles that have had to be overcome. Nobody would ever watch a movie about a perfect life where nothing ever goes wrong because it would be the worst movie ever produced. It’s the same concept with our lives: if there were never obstacles to overcome, life would be extremely boring.

It’s impossible to have the good without the bad because if there is no bad in life, nobody would be able to decipher what good really is. The important thing to remember is that despite what has happened in life, the only thing that matters is what is done from here on out. Regardless of how badly we wish things would have been done differently, the past cannot be changed. We hold the pen to our story and what we write next is up to us.

People say that they love dreaming because of the infinite places the mind can take you or the unending tasks that can be accomplished with their imagination racing and their eyes closed. Despite what my father thinks when he persistently tries to wake me up in the morning, I actually don’t love dreaming. I love waking up because I get to live out the dreams that otherwise become immediately fictitious the second my eyelids creep open.

If anyone says to be “realistic” while dreaming, don’t listen to another word they say. The fear of failure might be put on the line, but was it “realistic” to believe a floating piece of metal could transport you across the country in a few hours? No, it wasn’t, but I’m sure we’ve all heard of something called the airplane. The best stories come from the craziest imaginations. Dream big and then go live out your dreams.

Find something you’re passionate about and get lost in the right direction. Find something or someone and fall so madly in love and have such a burning passion in your heart that you see things in ways you’ve never seen before and make it a part of you. For me, it’s journalism and storytelling because I know every single person has a story dying to be told. To me, there isn’t a better feeling than bringing that story back to life to show people how amazing they are. If you haven’t found it yet, don’t worry because most people have it. Someday it will come to you. This is your story, make it you.

When we’re out chasing our dreams, some people will tell us to never be satisfied. We have to stay hungry and want more in order to become the best we can be. Other people will tell us to step back and be satisfied with what we have. It’s our job to find a happy medium between the two. Nobody wants to literally be hungry, but we should also never be OK with doing less than the best you can do.

While we’re out passionately chasing these dreams, if all we are worried about is achieving an end goal in order to achieve happiness, we will end up disappointed. Like the iconic Miley Cyrus once said, “It’s all about the climb.” We have to enjoy the process because there’s more than just what’s waiting on the other side. It’s your story, enjoy writing it.

We have come along way in the last 18 years of our lives. I, for one, couldn’t even walk 18 years ago. Imagine what we can accomplish in the next 18.

As we graduate, we aren’t just turning our tassels. We are also turning the page into the next chapter of our story. Now isn’t the time to stop writing, it’s simply time to see what’s next. I’ve heard the next chapter is the best one yet.

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