If you would’ve told me freshman year that I would (voluntarily) speak at the baccalaureate, on stage, with my classmates and their families in the crowd- I would’ve thought you were crazy.
Mrs. Duncan asked if any of the Student Government seniors would like to speak at the Baccalaureate last Saturday. For some reason I felt moved to do it.
We were told to write something that reflected our time here at West and what it has meant to us. I wanted to make it personal but able to have every graduate relate to what I was talking about. I wanted to address the lessons I’ve learned in high school and give them something that could help them in the future.
I am no writer. Maybe the least qualified to write a “motivational” or “inspirational” speech. I just had one goal in mind and that was to make the best speech I could possibly do. I want to be proud of it. After several hours later, working at home and in multiple classrooms, having it proof read by the smartest people I know- it was complete.
Was I nervous? Absolutely. Specially when my classmates started to wish me luck before hand. I considered walking out but of course my classmates push me back and made me keep walking into the auditorium. Before I took my seat, I asked someone for advice for someone who is terrified of public speaking (aka me!!) He told me most times when we are nervous, we are just excited. The body wants us to move every time we get those butterflies in our stomachs cause it’s a natural response from being excited.
He was right. I reminded myself of that everything will be okay, regardless of the mess ups. And boy, I did mess up. Lost my place early on and stuttered a few times but I survived. Immediately after, I had all of my attention to the next classmates that had the chance to speak. Suddenly, I felt the feeling of fear of judgement.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think of the worse possible scenarios. I thought I would be made fun of or my speech would be overlooked. I texted my mom at the moment when I was about to tear up and she told me to keep my head up, shoulders back, and to smile. I did what she told me because by now I’ve learned that my mom is always right.
Once we were released, the pastor told me that I recovered perfectly. He said our flaws and imperfections are what sets us apart from everyone else. It’s what makes us unique and gorgeous. I was flooded with hugs and encouragement. The reactions were motivating and unforgettable. The encouragement is what made me decide to finally take the courage to make a blog in the first place.
What really put the cherry on top in making the decision in posting is the mom that wanted a copy of my speech and the conversation I had in the parking lot with one of my classmates which will be the sweetest memory I will hold of them.
Obedience. If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it. I heard this 30 mins before I had to drive to the baccalaureate. I will never forget what courage feels like and the conversations I had will stay close to my heart.
This goes out to the ones who listen to me rant about this speech for a solid week, the few who proofread, and the ones who inspired me to post this.
thanks Caleb b for your compassion and encouragement.
Hello, for those who don’t know me my name is Katelyn Aquino. I would like to thank all of the parents, teachers, administration and the staff at West who have put their time and energy in helping us get here.
I quickly realized that high school is nothing like high school musical. I did not find a Troy Bolton or have classmates break out in song in the cafeteria but we all have a motto that we can cling onto. Instead of “Once a wildcat is always a wildcat” we have “ I am west forsyth and we are family” I can remember how I felt when I first walked into West, anxious and terrified. One of my freshman teachers said that when I walked into her room for the first time, I looked like a scared little deer. There were days when I didn’t see myself as being successful or important and I doubted my capability of doing great things in the future. Every trial I have been confronted with, I have always learned more about myself and how much strength I had within me. Through every season, brought new people and life lessons. Unexpectedly, I have grown into a leader that I wouldn’t have imagine becoming. I chose to be my own person because it was so exhausting trying to be live up to people’s expectations. I learned that who you surround yourself with, you start to become and great things don’t happen in your comfort zone.
Over the past four years I have grown tremendously from the challenges and obstacles that I faced. I could not have done this alone. I think it’s important to remember that we were not made to live life alone, we were meant to have community. Along the way, I have met some amazing people who have made leaving West very difficult. There were people who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, who gave me comfort when life seemed heavy, and made me feel seen when I felt invisible.
Wanting to be in the teaching profession, I have gained a new perspective and respect for educators. Everything they do is so that their students can become better and prepare them for the next steps in life. My teachers have inspired me to do the same. It was those teachers who told me that I can be anything I wanted to be, who listen and gave advice when I needed it the most, and who have helped me keep moving forward. I can go on and on about the impact that my teachers have made on me but I would be using up my 5 minutes.
It wasn’t just the teachers that made my experience here at West great, but also my classmates that I have gotten to know. Naturally, I grew to be someone who cares deeply for others and cares more about someone else’s well being before my own. Through the different extracurriculars, helping out the football team, and being a talker in the classroom, I had the chance to get to know a lot of people in different grades. People come into and out of our lives for different purposes. It could be to help us heal, to learn about something new within ourselves, the possibilities are endless.
You can learn a lot about a person by taking the time to ask them how they are doing. During the football season, I made it a important goal of mine to get to know as many people as I could and hopefully make them feel less alone in this chaotic world. I was shocked at the huge impression kindness can make on myself and those around me. Whenever I asked how someone’s day was going, their usual response was “good”. I didn’t settle for the one worded responses instead I would ask again. I believe that everyone wants to be heard, seen, and loved, we just have to take the time to invest and listen.
I think most of us have felt or are currently feeling the pressure to hold everything together, keeping it in a tiny box. I figured out the hard way that when you do that, the box will indeed explode! My life was out of control, out of my control. We cannot control our lives as much as we want to. We can’t control what other people do or say, we can’t control what happens to us or what gets to happen in the future. The fear of the not knowing creates anxiety and unnecessary stress. We began to worry about every single thing and are hesitant to anything we could do because the little “what ifs” come to play. If we let the fear of not knowing stop us from what we dream or hope of doing in our future, we know for certain that we will never know what could’ve happened if we did do pursued it.
This new phase of life requires a whole lot of willingness to just keep moving forward. Take things day by day and don’t be afraid about the future that you miss on what is happening now. Someone told me that if we knew what our future holds, we wouldn’t want anything in our lives right now to be different. After hearing that, I wouldn’t want anything to be changed. I encourage you to live passionately and authentically. Don’t take your long seasons selfishly and find peace in knowing that everything will turn out okay. Treat others with compassion and kindness. Be grateful for the good and bad things that come your way for it will shape who you are and who you will become. Go out in this world, follow our dreams and courageously stomp fear to the ground.
I hope and pray that every graduate here understands that they have purpose, they are deserving of happiness regardless of the things they’ve done or gone through, and are capable to do crazy amazing things in this world. Don’t pursue in something to prove them wrong, to get recognition or to gain self worth. Whatever you decide to do- do it because it’s what fires up our soul and makes you happy.
It’s been one heck of a ride class of 2019, we did it!