By Sarah Kate Davenport '21
It is a privilege to stand here and present a speech via camera, and not in front of you all, thank God. I am sure the speeches that are more worthy to be heard would be the ones given by Seniors such as Eliana Horowitz or Anahita Maleknia, but you got stuck with me. You may be wondering what in the world I’m gonna talk about, because I sure was when I found out I was giving a speech. I thought I could write about basketball and the passion I have for the sport and love I have for my teammates, but I decided against arguing that our 3-16 record were the best times I had. Then I thought writing about how my 2020 went. The ups, the downs, catching coronavirus, or quarantining several times, but then y’all would be bashing me for being social in a time of isolation. So then I reached the thought, politics?? It was followed by a hard no. I’m not here to lecture, judge, bash, or persuade. We have had enough politics for a lifetime. So then I decided to write about you all - just kidding.
Today I am presenting to you the past, the present, and the future. As all of you, my peers, sit here and listen to my speech, or at least the advisors that make you, I know freshman you are eager, sophomores you are scared, juniors you are tired, and seniors I know each day is one day closer to walking across the stage. Before everything shifts, I want to share the philosophy I have embraced for how I live my life. I choose to live in the here and now. I believe in utilizing my past as a tool to help me better appreciate the moments I am living through now. I use the moments I am in now to help direct me to the future. However, I always focus on the moment because today is a gift, the past is history, the future is a mystery, and our stories will all eventually unfold.
"You can’t judge the person you were, compared to the person you are becoming. Forgive yourself."
Strolling down memory lane is a tricky game, yet one we have all done. It pulls out the highlights, the hidden, the forgotten, the wanted to be forgotten, the screw ups, the rewards, all of it. Our memories can serve as the best gifts or haunting nightmares. You can daze through the good ones, but shouldn’t dwell on the bad ones. You can’t allow yourself to fall in love with the memories because then you’ll always be reliving the past, which will leave no room for your future. You also can’t judge the person you were, compared to the person you are becoming. Forgive yourself. You simply cannot sit and stare at your wounds forever. I used to catch myself imagining how my life would turn out if I stuck with certain people or believed in different things, and the countless directions my life could have gone. I would constantly remind myself that I didn’t go through all that for nothing. But sometimes looking back, you realize the lessons you had to learn, which could be the people you chose to have in your life, the slip ups, not studying hard enough, or all the carbs you ate.
These lessons are the foundation of the person you are becoming. You can’t change the past even if you wanted to, so take what already lies in history and leave it in order to keep writing your future. What is left behind has to be what gets you to where you want - not an admiration, but a guide of how to continue to endlessly create yourself along your journey. Looking back you don’t want to say, “I was supposed to be having the time of my life”. Instead, you want to be thankful you didn’t end up with what you thought you wanted, you want to have appreciated living in the moment and not being caught up in the past, to have lived a full life of reckless memories. You must value the moments you are living through, not stuck in the past or questioning the future. From the great words of Dr. Suess, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”. In the end, you never think the last time is the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don’t. So never again will I take for granted small memories with good friends and great family.
"Life is a beautiful collection of moments. No matter if it includes failing your math test or hysterically laughing with your closest friends. Chaos and stillness are both beautiful in their own manner."
If you are always getting ready for the next thing, how will you enjoy the present? We are always either tripping on the edge of the future or stumbling back into the past, never living in the moment. Life is a beautiful collection of moments. No matter if it includes failing your math test or hysterically laughing with your closest friends. Chaos and stillness are both beautiful in their own manner. I think what messes us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be. I believe comparison kills personality. I also believe in being a good person and not wasting your time proving it. If you're happy doing what you’re doing, no one can tell you you’re not successful. Life becomes so much more beautiful when you stop allowing yourself to care about what people think. Focus on doing what makes you happy, because it is your life and you need to learn to live it for yourself. You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. And once you start doing what's best for you, you will outgrow a lot of people. I began steering my life in one direction, down one path, towards one future, and stopped revisiting backroads or making U-turns. I learned that it is okay to live a life others do not understand. Although we will always succumb to the fine line of being terrified of change, but also terrified of staying the same, you must always strive to ask yourself, “Why not now?” Listen here, you have four years to be irresponsible, go out on a Tuesday, spend the money you don't have, stay up until sunrise. Work never ends. School does.
Our future is of all three - a celebration, a farewell, and a beginning. I believe what is coming is better than what is gone. I believe there's more to life than a small town. I only lived a fraction of my life in Huntsville, Alabama and it was filled with strife, disorder, madness, manner, regularity, and harmony. Sometimes, I felt stuck, but I had to remember that I haven’t even met a fraction of the people that will love me in this life. You must remember to live while you’re so busy surviving. One day or day one, you get to choose and the most reliable way to predict your future is to create it. Begin anew. Whatever you may choose, make the decision for yourself, not what others may want you to do. Never find yourself seeking others opinion or approval so you may accomplish it. It’s good to be scared, because it still means you still have something to lose. Ever so often, it may look like the end of the story, but it isn’t. I couldn’t be more excited to go to college next year, but there are moments when I pause. I look around me to see the friends that are laughing with me, the great family that surrounds me, or even just Ms. Karen and Jeremy greeting me and making me feel like the best person. Then I start to wonder, who will that be for me next year? Will I have that next year? And then I start feeling left behind when I’m the one leaving. I feel like I’m going to miss out on what the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are gonna have for the next few years that I won’t. I think of my home to return to after school, filled with family, friends, and my own belongings. It's now time to say goodbye to the memories I got too comfortable with. It stings a little. It makes you bleed, exposes you. But that is when you have to start preparing for your future. And I know sometimes it’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on. No risk, no story, and in the end that’s all we are, stories to be told. So just remember you cannot take life too seriously, you won’t make it out alive.