Monday, June 11, 2018

Focus on WHO you want to be

I was recently asked to give a speech at our 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony.  Our school invites an alumni to come back to speak each year to the students who are moving on to middle school.  I was honored to be asked to speak to the students at my school as a former student of DDE & current teacher at DDE!

Public speaking is not my thing, but I did have a message I wanted to get across to the students who are off to middle school.  Here is what it was:

When I was here for kindergarten, down in room 213,  I created this time capsule box.  It was a shoe box that was hot glued shut and had memories and keepsakes in it.  I had to wait until high school graduation to open up this box and reveal the memories that were inside.  I had no idea what was in the box.  It sat on a shelf in the closet and for years I always wondered what was inside.

The box sat on the shelf in the closet as I went through elementary school, middle school, and high school.  My high school graduation came and my kindergarten teacher was kind enough to come to my graduation party.  We opened the box together and inside I found a Polaroid picture.  The picture was of me in kindergarten and had the caption “I want to be a teacher”.

Crazy enough, I had just received a scholarship to go to Elon University as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow where I was going to get my degree in elementary education.

Have any of you ever thought about what you wanted to be when you grow up?

I remember sitting here in those chairs years ago thinking that I was going to be a teacher when I grew up.  I had always wanted to be a teacher, aside from a short period of time in 4th grade where I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, and was already starting to wonder what I needed to do to become a teacher.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Take a moment and think about it. 

I was asked that question a lot and I bet you have too. I bet you have also been told to get good grades, so you can go to a really good school and get a really  good job.

And it’s true - having goals, dreams and ambitions are very important to living a successful and happy life.

But I don’t want you to spend too much time thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. The world is going to change SO FAST in your lifetime.

As I was preparing for this night, I was looking back at photo albums and saw all of my pictures from the DC field trip.  I laughed because they were all taken on a disposable camera. My friends and I had multiple disposable cameras that we took up to DC and then we brought them to the store when we were done and got the film developed.  

I don’t feel like I am that old yet and it is crazy to see how much has changed since I was here in 5th grade.  There weren’t iPhones at that time - no Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, nothing!  The world is going to change so fast over the next few years.

There are careers, jobs and inventions that will completely change the world and you might be able to create them.  

As you move on to middle school then high school and beyond,The question to ask yourself is not “what do you want to be when you grow up”, but “who do you want to be when you grow up?”  Focus on growing into the person you want to be when you grow up.

Who you are going to be is so much more important than what you are going to be. In fact, who you are will help you become what you want to be.

A hardworking, great teammate and supportive person will make a much better football player than a physically strong, selfish person.

A smart, ambitious woman who can communicate with her friends will make a much better CEO and leader than a genius who thinks she is better than everyone else.

 If you work on making yourself the best version of yourself, you will always be successful and find happiness. And the key word is “success”. Success is different for everyone.

Success looks different to everyone, and only you will know what makes you happy. So don’t worry or focus too much on what you want to be. Focus on how you want to be and who you want to be, when you grow up.

So I want to ask my question again, but just change one word.  Instead of thinking about what you want to be when you grow up, take a moment and think about WHO you want to be when you grow up.

I want to leave you with a quote from Bryan Skavnak:

Some kids are smarter than you
Some kids have cooler clothes than you
Some kids are better at sports than you
It doesn’t matter
You have your thing too
Be the kid who can get along
Be the kid who is generous
Be the kid who is happy for other people
Be the kid who does the right thing
Be the nice kid.

If you focus on who you want to be, you will find great success.  Don’t worry so much about the what, focus on you, the who, and you will continue to do great things.  Best of luck on the next stage of your journey!


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