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Valedictorian Speech - 5-16-11

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Uploaded on Jun 13, 2011

This is my valedictorian speech. I worked my entire school career to be the best in my class, and I really like to think I succeeded. However, beyond school, something much larger made up my life.
Harry Potter has shaped my childhood and made me a much better person; I would not, could not be the person I am today without the lessons I have learned from JK Rowling and her cast of characters.
I worked on my speech for a very long time; I was preparing it long before it was even announced that I was valedictorian. I wanted to bring my love for my education and my love for what has shaped me together. I only hoped for a positive reception for my speech; I only hoped that I could influence someone, anyone from the audience to be a better person, to be a happier person, in the way that I had been influenced by Harry Potter.

I did not practice this speech in any public capacity; reading it at that podium was the first time it was presented to a group of people. I... I am not much of a public speaker, but the message is far more important to me than the way I communicated it. I have not listened to it myself; I frankly can't stand the sound of my own voice. People have assured me that it is good enough (or at least, there was enough approval to inspire me) to present it to the world, but I do not expect to meet anyone's approval.
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Hello.
Friends, family, peers of mine -- lend me your ears! I come not to praise this era, but to bury it.
These have been some of the bleakest years of our lives. We will look back on this period with many emotions, there is no denying. We have had good times -- made friends, learned things, perhaps even had a short-lived love or two. But we will also look back with displeasure, with sadness, for when sorrows come; they come not as single spies, but in battalions. To make it worse... humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them. We all know this. These sorrows are behind us.
Just because we have failed here -- as we all have, to be unique and individual human beings outside of the influence of those who don't know us, who can't identify with us no matter how similarly we feel to them... it is not the end. It is our choices who show who we are, far more than our abilities. Happiness can be found even in the darkest of places... one only needs to remember, to turn on the light. Do not fear the change that will inevitably come for us, as we stand poised on the edge of a new chapter in the tales of our individual humanities. There is no point in worrying yet... what will come, will come... and you will be there to meet it.
There is nothing keeping you from meeting your dreams, beyond your mindset. Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. It is a curious thing, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. There are those who have leadership thrust upon them, and they take up the mantle because they must, and find to their surprise that they wear it well. But do not be too hasty to find your destiny! Make your changes wisely, slowly; they stumble that run fast.
We will move on -- we will go to college, go to work, go to a significant figure and have a family -- or maybe we won't. Does it matter? We are the stuff dreams are made on, rounded with little sleep. I am happy with what I have done with myself -- and as long as you are happy with yourself, how you have ranked in school should mean nothing more than its limited impact on your future. It is too late to change it, now. Be happy for what you have earned, and the world shall be your oyster.
Even if you don't know what you are looking to find in your future... someday it will come to you -- your eyes must just be open to accept it. You will say "Oh, there you are, I've been looking for you forever," and suddenly everything will be beautiful -- even if things still hurt, they will be beautiful. As an individual, it is your duty to make yourself happy -- to accept possibilities that could bring you to a new understanding of yourself and the world around you.
And remember: working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more, believing in yourself. Think of it this way; every great person in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now, students. If they can do it why not us?

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