I believe I mentioned it on here a few posts ago, but here it is again. I auditioned to give a speech during graduation. I had that audition on Monday and here’s the experience and aftermath. As I walked down to the room with my fourth and hopefully final draft of my speech, I was nervous about it. I knew there were going to be quite a few people auditioning and I’m hesitant to utter the words “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to strangers (they’re in my speech), and I don’t know what’s being judged for this audition. Is it just the content of the speech, or is it also my presentation and how nervous I am and all of that stuff? I don’t know. So I go and check in and I’m told to wait for the rest of the teachers to get there, and another student walks in who I know and don’t particularly like. I can say one thing though, and that’s he is very intelligent and not super shy, so I immediately start thinking about what he’ll think of my speech and how ours will compare and I become 10x more nervous. Eventually he is asked to leave, which is a relief but it still made my heart beat very fast. So I gave my speech without any style or “performing” because they told me that they just wanted to see whether my speech would be a good graduation speech, and they timed me. I performed and I left. Yesterday evening, I found a voicemail on my phone, saying that another speech was selected, but that I should submit my speech to the creative works magazine that the school does.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I’m not sure how much giving a speech means to the other students who auditioned, but I can speak for myself when I say I was really hopeful. It was something I felt called to do and I was going to give my writing exposure and I was going to have an opportunity to face my fear of public speaking. I was really into it! But after that call, I felt kind of destroyed. A million questions raced through my head, like, “Should I have actually tried to perform it with style and stuff?” “Who actually won this thing? Who’s speaking on my behalf?” “What is the winning speech about? If it’s a cliche piece of crap, I’m going to punch somebody!” “What could I have done better?” “Why did the other person beat me?” But I also realize something. I’m really trying to stick to my own wisdom that I’ve been writing on this blog. Last week I wrote about seizing opportunities to do things maybe you wouldn’t normally do. I’ve preached staying calm and realizing that God has a plan for you. So I’ve been implementing those things whenever I can and wherever I can. I don’t have a regret. I’d much rather have written my speech and not have it selected than sitting in those chairs at graduation wondering if it could’ve been me at the podium. I did take a chance, and I’m glad I did! I wrote a speech that is very good, no matter what the school board says. I wrote it with my own two hands and a brain. I got to write something I wanted to write and enjoyed writing! There is nothing to regret and only pride that I accomplished something. I’m choosing to look at this in a positive light. If I didn’t win that speech audition, then I wasn’t meant to. Somebody else will give a (hopefully) great speech. It doesn’t reflect anything about me that I didn’t win. I believe in my speech, and I’m proud of how it turned out. I am bummed, of course, but I know God has a different plan for me, and that’s okay by me.
However, if I can’t deliver it in front of thousands of people, that means I can post it on here for all of you to read. Here is the speech that almost was.
A few months ago I had a discussion with my dad about the nature of success and happiness. He was of the opinion that money doesn’t equal happiness, but it’s much harder to be happy without money. It got me thinking, especially because I have a different opinion. I don’t believe the world ought to revolve around money, or that the joy we find in life should be in any way correlated to a dollar amount. What we need to do is follow our passion, even if it means sacrificing the opportunity for wealth.
Still, the system tells us it is most important to get an education in order to get a better job to make more money and then we’ll be happy. Our passions come second to financial success. I’m sure all of us have had those moments in math class when we wonder why we need to know the square root of “x” to the third if x=2. We won’t use it any time outside of school right? It’s our teachers’ responsibility to teach us how to solve that equation so we can pass their class and at the very least get our diploma. Then we can spend thousands of dollars to go to college, get a decent job, earn a decent living, and live a happy life. Ultimately, we’re told learning the answer is 2.828 will make us happy in in the long run, and our desires have less value when it comes to choosing what happens after high school.
Don’t blame the teachers. Don’t blame the principal or your parents or the politicians because they’re as much victims of the system as we are. The reality is that if the system has to change, then it has to be done from the inside. We’re all part of it. Legislation won’t change it anytime soon, but we can start the process now by choosing to follow what we are passionate about. It may not be an immediate effect, but don’t think it can’t happen.
Life is better spent pursuing our passions, because when we take our final breaths, we won’t be caring about our fortune. We’ll be remembering all we did with our lives and the people closest to us. If we follow our passion, we’ll have far fewer regrets and life will have meant something more to us and those around us. We’ll live a more joyful life. The following is a monologue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer delivered by David Boreanaz.
““Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”
So, Class of 2015, follow your passion. Don’t approach your life thinking your net worth dictates whether you’re happy or not. Change the way you view success and make joy your ultimate goal. Congratulations!
I love this speech. I think I did an excellent job by any standard, but most importantly for me. That quote is very special and in my eyes entirely true. It makes me feel warm and happy inside to know a few things. One is that I can write a speech when I’ve never really written one before. The more important one for me is, as silly as it sounds, Buffy has real life wisdom that is applicable to real life. Forget the vampires and the demons, it’s an exaggeration of real problems that people face daily. The amount of wisdom within that show that is pure and clean and correct is astounding for such a dark and violent and sometimes goofy show. The fact that I can use an entire monologue from that show to make a point of mine is a testament to the show, and one of the reasons I love it so dearly. After I finish watching through Buffy and Angel a second time, I’m going to watch through them both again and keep a quote book of all the good quotes, humorous and otherwise applicable. So, anyway, that’s my speech, and I love it. I also was wanting to share a little story I have that occurred in a dream, so here’s that.
Last week I was sick, so I slept a lot. I was exhausted all the time by doing nothing, and for reasons I think I discovered in my AP Psych class, I had very vivid dreams while I was sick. I can remember three separate dreams I had, but this one is the only one I’m going to share, because the other ones are a little less share-able to other humans for reasons I will not be sharing either. Regardless, I wrote this in my journal to remember, and it is slightly out of order chronologically, but you’ll see why. The following is exactly what I wrote in my journal:
“Let’s start with the weird thing in my dream so I can end on the awesome stuff. So last night [April 12] I had another really vivid dream sequence that I still remember. The weird part was my black baby who wasn’t previously black. I was holding him (he’s fat and looks like he’s like 8-10 months old) and we were in a restaurant. A black worker walks in and the baby sees him. So the baby looks down at his own arm and then to me. He starts laughing and pointing at the man. For some reason, I thought it was so cool that he recognized his own race when he saw it, and I HAD to tell the worker that story.
“That’s all there is to that part, but man was it kind of weird having a massive black infant who is amused by black people instead of a tiny white newborn. Let’s move on to David. [This is before the black baby incident from here on out] I was on some family vacation to somewhere sunny (presumably Los Angeles) and my biggest hope was to see David Boreanaz there. Now, I’m not Catholic, but we were in a Catholic church. I think David is Catholic, so that would make sense why I was there in my dream. Anyway, I didn’t know where David went to church, if at all. But I was delighted to see a Mr. David Boreanaz sitting in the front row, no more than like 20 feet away from me. From that point on, I kept an eye on him. I wanted to talk to him, but I didn’t want to appear like a crazy starstruck fan, so I played hard to get. I lost him and found him again, and I remember hearing and watching him tell his child to go to timeout even longer because he’d left timeout earlier. I was standing right next tot he kid, so I leaned down next to the kid and whispered to him, ‘Just count to 300.” As I walked away, I think David gave me a glare, but I was just glad to be noticed by him.
“So that’s the David part of the story. Now to the semi-important and most ‘influential’ part of the dream. Right after the David incident, I found myself holding a newborn baby boy. As a quick sidenote, this baby somehow morphed into the black baby by the end of the dream. Regardless, this ADORABLE little newborn is in my arms and I cradled his head in my left elbow. I still remember everything I felt in the dream. The body tucked into my chest, the weight of his head on my arm, seeing his precious little face, and somehow I knew the little guy was mine. Now, I won’t know the real feeling of holding my child for the first time [for a long time], but hut here’s what I do know and what I felt. I KNEW he was MINE. He was a part of me. I held him in my arms and I was hopelessly in love with him. I never wanted to put him down or for him to ever grow up. I would do anything to provide for, protect, and love and raise him. It was PURE MAGIC. If someday, no, when someday I have children, I hope I’ll feel the same thing. The feeling goes so far beyond words. I just know that that little boy, my son, was the love of my life that I would never cease to love. I sincerely hope I was being clairvoyant, because I can’t stop thinking about my imaginary son, who I already love beyond life itself.”
I’m tearing up writing that because it’s so true. I’m just sitting in the school library waiting for class during my off period days after the dream happened and I’m still tearing up because it’s all true. Maybe some of you who are parents can relate, because I know you’ve held your children for the first time. I don’t know that feeling, but that dream felt so much like the real deal that now I think I do know what it’s like. It’s indescribable to feel that connection to another tiny human, knowing that he really is a part of you. You made him (not me, he just appeared in my arms) and now here he is. It’s like I had a metaphorical umbilical cord to him, where we were linked and I had nothing in me but a desire to hold my baby boy and love him and cherish him. It’s so weird, because I’m just about to turn 18 and I already have these visions of my future children and wife and wedding and stuff. It’s super dorky (I look back on my post “My Dream Wedding” and cringe a little because of how sappy and dorky it is to already be planning a wedding when I haven’t even started dating), but that’s who I am. Call me Jacob “Megadork” Smith, because that’s who I am. Or Sheldon “Snow Devil” Smith as my dad calls me, but that’s a different story. I’m a sap, and I’m a romantic, and my hope in writing that down and now in posting this is that I can some day show him this post and even the original journal where I wrote it and show them to my son. Then he can know that I was in love with him before he was even conceived. I can pin a date to the exact moment I started loving him, and it was before I even met him. That to me is incredible and an astounding gift for a child to have.
With that wonderful post (seriously, I felt so happy and joyful writing it), I am nearly through with my off hour. I’m going to finish up and I will talk to you all soon. Thanks for reading!