To the class of 2022: One final goodbye
June 11, 2022
This year, I took time to return to the simple things I loved most in life. Amongst the receding aftermath of COVID, political turmoil, the Great Resignation, and many other historical moments for the class of 22, many of us felt compelled to find peace by returning to simple joys. No more ambitious travel plans, no more elaborate social events. The desire never goes away, only the opportunity. We all wanted these things, but had grown accustomed to simpler substitutes. One of the many rediscovered pleasures was time spent reading.
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, a story about a young shepherd boy living in the Andalusian region of Spain with dreams spanning all corners of the Earth, was a spirit-soothing favorite of mine. The story speaks of more than the boy’s life but also reassures readers of the forgiving nature of the universe. A recurring theme is the idea of Santiago’s personal legend. The concept entertains the idea that each of us is destined for a personal legend, our ultimate calling most close to our heart. The universe is constantly in our favor to achieve it, but the closer we get to our calling, it will also test our resolve through trials and obstacles. Can any of us really say we haven’t been tested?
But alas, the clouds have broken and the light is shining again. As we reach the end of a year of healing, it seems the entire world has stopped abruptly in its tracks, realizing the decades we spent forgetting to just live. Countless seniors have chosen a path in life that awards them more in life than just degrees and a restless future- they choose to seek their personal legends. Many are slowing down- the planners amongst us are taking the time to go to Wake Tech and discover their interests before taking the leap to college, the curious minds of our class are headed off to various universities with a vision of learning and living in mind, the bravest amongst us are choosing to serve in the armed forces.
In the greater scale of our era, Americans are resigning, seeking fulfillment rather than feeling obliged to stick to a path of life that does not serve them best.
Through this journey, it can be easy to lose sight of how far we’ve come despite the obstacles. Life is always changing in small increments but every now and then, something big comes along to remind us just how much we’ve grown. It’s always a bittersweet feeling to see how much we’ve gained, but remember what we’re putting down so we may pick up the pen for this next chapter. To graduate hurts a bit more than it hurt to start scheduling our own doctor’s appointments, to stop looking back and waving at your mother’s car as she leaves the carpool line, to click send on college applications, to speak to friends we once cried with over scraped knees only once a week or even once a month.
That’s because it is the net loss of all the little things we once did as children and the net gain of every sinew of character we have built from the good times and the bad. It hits us all at once; all the ways we’ve shed the ignorance and joy of childhood, and now face the deep yet beautiful mystery of moving on.
If there is anything I want the entire class of 22 to know, it is that I am proud of us, no matter our differences. May we always choose wheels over doors. May we always hold ourselves to the standards of kindness and empathy that a pandemic nurtured us into feeling. May we forever choose to let others love no matter how loudly or softly it suits them to do so. May our ambitions bring us wealth in many forms, from money, to joy, to purpose. Like Santiago, may we seek character over perfection and always remember from our experiences the strength of unity in the face of calamity. Class of 22, the universe is in your favor.