Listen up. I got something to say. Tomorrow’s a Monday so I hope you had a good Sunday. So before I miss the chance to say what I really have to say, give me a few moments of your time. I’m not here to make you memorize. This isn’t graded. This won’t be in the test. But here’s something I want you to learn about life.
Like my exams, it isn’t easy. You got to work hard from the beginning because life, too, goes from the introduction to the basics to the theory to the advanced. You’re born into this world with your own unique qualities, you’re taught how to look left and look right and play nice with other kids, you’re made to dream about what you want to be when you grow up, and then you grow up. It sounds simple enough, then you fill in the blanks. You figure out the true from the false. And you make multiple choices. But unlike my exams, you can’t always work your way out with a long-winded essay because in life you’re judged not by what you say, but by what you do.
So always be on time. Stand up properly and sit up straight. Raise your hand when you have something to say. Listen when others are speaking. If you have a question, don’t hesitate. If you have a complaint, speak politely. Be worthy of respect and you will be respected. Acknowledge the dignity of others by having some yourself. They say the real world lies beyond the school; the reality is that you never leave the classroom. It’s just that the chairs are arranged differently; the walls may be gone entirely. But seated across you is someone who is still learning, too — even if they may now be called your employee, your partner, your co-worker, your boss.
After all, it’s not always about the grades. You can be outstanding, average, or poor, but in the end we’re judged not on our report cards but on the content of our character. What’s funny about the world is that in school you avoid getting zeroes, but later on you’re measured by how many you receive each month. We live in a world easily reduced into numbers, for convenience’s, practicality’s, and reality’s sake. Just don’t forsake yourself and your own dreams however boundless, unquantifiable, impossible. Ships may be safe in harbor, but that is not what they’re for. So be brave. Stand up for something. Take a risk. Don’t be afraid about failure and let your fears go.
Because that is how I ended up here. I wasn’t afraid. And while many will say that you can do more, become more, and earn more, at the end of the day it is only you who can say what you’re worth. So value your life and do something of value, but whatever it is do it with all your heart and soul. Because we only live once, and our lives are too precious to not serve as a lesson — a beacon — for others.
For I am a teacher and here’s one more thing I want you to know: you are all already teachers. You can educate. You can inspire. Whether it be in a jungle, a courtroom, a hospital, or a battle field, you can live your life in a manner that others can look up to and learn. So speak truthfully. Work honestly. Persevere humbly. Dream heartily. Dare yourself to be more because once the two words you’ll never hear again are said for the last time, then you’ll be faced with all you can be. So good luck.