As graduation ceremonies begin to take place at high schools throughout the country, I had it on my heart to share this poem with any and all graduates. This is a critical moment in their life journey, so I wrote this poem with the sole intent of helping them to see beyond just a diploma.
Congratulations, graduates! Your special day is here. A new challenge awaits you. Your future is near.
As you prepare to receive that precious diploma, in the company of your family and friends, I invite you to reconsider what this coveted document really represents.
Sometimes the word graduation implies that you’re finished, or that your education journey has come to an end. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and fail to recognize the tremendous opportunities that are just around the bend.
So, when you finally move the tassel on your cap, to mark the end of your graduation, I want you to think of the document you hold in your hands as an invitation that signifies a beginning, not an end.
An invitation to share your gifts with the larger world in which you live. People desperately need the gifts that only you can give.
An invitation to embark on a new kind of education, which involves learning about self. Wherever you go, there you are. So work on you, because the books you’ve gathered over the years will remain on the shelf.
An invitation to follow your passion, not your bank account. The world will inundate you with messages of material worth, but if it’s happiness and joy you’re looking for, then fueling your passion is paramount.
An invitation to be the change you wish to see in the people around you. Change doesn’t happen as a result of force or manipulation, it happens when you make a commitment to be the change and to live your truth.
An invitation to honor your parents and embrace the love they’ve poured into your heart. Leaving home is no easy task, so find comfort in knowing that it’s your parents who’ve been with you from the very start.
An invitation to be innovative and to develop an entrepreneurial mind. While some may pressure you into a certain career path, they don’t hold the keys to your future. It’s yours to explore and find.
An invitation to communicate authentically in a world dominated by text, apps, and video games, just to name a few. Put down your phone, look into someone’s eyes, and nurture the skill of true communication. People don’t want to see your phone. They want to see you.
An invitation to shine your light on a world filled with dark and dreary events. Wherever you go, there will be darkness that surrounds you. Choose to shine your light and positive change will commence.
Most of you who are reading this, I will never have a chance to meet. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I believe in you and your potential accomplishments and great feats.
Hold that diploma tight and cherish it for all the days. Although it symbolizes your graduation, let it also be an invitation to the world you’re about to enter and the lives you’re about to change in countless ways.
I believe in you!
Mike Sissel (1990 high school graduate)