Commencement speaker not in the cards


There’s something to be said about how hard we try to achieve things in life. Every day, we’re developing new goals and accomplishing them at the same time. Its a constant cycle. We challenge ourselves and step outside of our comfort zone; we take risks.

I took a risk, I made a goal, about two months ago. I said that I would apply to be the 2013 Commencement Speaker at UMass Amherst. At that time, I wrote about how my impending study abroad trip was actually the driving force behind that goal. I wrote that I wanted this. That I wanted to be the shy freshman turned seasoned traveler and college graduate addressing my peers in a way that I never deemed imaginable as a first year student.

In “Why Study Abroad Convinced Me to be Commencement Speaker,” I wrote this:

My first thought was to save the email because I might want to apply to be the Student Speaker. My second thought was that I might not have the confidence or the gusto to take that leap of faith. But then I realized how far I’ve come since Freshman year. I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Alpha chapter in Massachusetts; I enrolled in numerous Dale Carnegie Training courses, most notably the Dale course and High Impact Presentations; and I elected to study abroad in Italy for my eighth and final semester at UMass.

But I didn’t get what I wanted. I didn’t get to be Commencement Speaker. That’s ok, though because I won’t ever regret applying. I won’t live with a feeling of regret because I didn’t take a risk. I risked my pride,  my happiness and my self-confidence by applying.

Three years ago I never would have applied and even if I had, I wouldn’t be taking the news so well. Sure I’m sad and I would have killed for the opportunity, but it is what it is.

I’m more confident than ever because I know that next time I take such a giant step out of my comfort zone it’ll be with a clear head and a willing mind. This experience taught me not to be afraid of a challenge or afraid of failure. Taking risks is part of life. I’ll continue to take risks even though I may not always get what I want because I won’t get better if I don’t.

This is me cooperating with the inevitable. This is me admitting defeat but not accepting failure as a reason to stop taking risks. It’s like Howie Day wrote in his song. “Even the best fall down sometimes.”

I fell down, but I got back up more ready than before for the next challenge.

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