If I gave the HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS at my high school, 2022.

As far as commencement speeches go, this might be considered non-commencement material. Because telling you that you can go out and change the world or, for that matter, change anyone is not so. I have a different story to tell, and it begins like this.

Take a look around. Can you change the person beside you? Change your parents, friends, siblings, or strangers?

Probably not, but the good news is what you can do. You can grow into the best and brightest version of yourself.

Some of you will go on and attend technical training or study toward a university degree, or you might skip all those classroom hours and find the job that draws you in directly from high school.

Whatever path you take, let’s focus on just one thing that everyone can do and be for the next few minutes. So you, me, and the person beside you, let’s talk about being the best version of ourselves.

I grew up on a dairy farm with ten siblings, not far from this high school. We worked early mornings and early evenings on farm stuff during the school year and early mornings to early evenings during the summer. My parents had their hands busy with kids, chores, bills, and getting it all to flow together. When high school graduation day came, they were thrilled since we would then be totally on our own financially and expected to get a job that would pay our way. If we continued to live at home, we paid rent to live there.

I stand here as a mother, grandmother, wife, and business owner. But, today, I am not the same person who sat in one of your chairs but totally and entirely changed.

Maybe you could say it is an inside job.

And that job is the job of becoming the best version of ourselves.

You are the change. You are the future. In the phrases here, you reflect the importance of each of us. Evolution and the future are about people, the individuals that make up our world. And nothing changes before me, and you change and become our best selves.

How to begin.

Why not follow this basic shortlist titled: “becoming my best self.”

1. Return calls, emails, and texts within a few minutes, no later than 24 hours.
2. Write personal thank you notes. You know the paper and ink deal that requires a stamp.
3. Live a life of order.
4. Think back to your childhood. When did you feel safe? Then, when times are tough, bring that memory to the forefront, and dwell on the secure feeling.
5. Read or listen to books. Try for a book per month, either from the library, local book store, or online. And do not continually buy your favorite author. Instead, pick new authors with unfamiliar material.
6. Find someone who listens to you, a mentor who is not afraid to challenge you.

I lived poor, and I lived with money. Money is better, I guarantee you. As you make decisions, please keep your dream and vision of your future life focused. It may not happen this month, next year, or in 10 years, but once you have challenged yourself and regularly work at becoming the best version of yourself, the dreams, visions, future hopes, and success show up.

As for your first book read? I recommend buying your copy of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. And when you need encouragement, another viewpoint, or want to feel good about life, open the book and begin to read.

I wish you love and kindness and to become the best version of yourself! It will take a lifetime.

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