Today, I want to congratulate the Class of 2014 on all of our accomplishments… but first, let me take a selfie.
You know, it’s funny. We are what is known as Generation Y, and there’s a lot of traits and stigmas attached to that name; but I think we got that name because people are constantly trying to understand us. We keep getting asked why we take so many selfies. Why do we post pictures on Instagram of our Starbucks Frappuccinos with a smiley emoji? Why did we feel the need to immediately make our relationships Facebook official, as if we weren’t actually dating unless everybody knew we were no longer single? Why do we condense every moment of our lives into 140 characters and hashtags? Why do we scream out into the empty void that is the internet, hoping for likes or retweets as if they actually matter? Do we think people really care? Do we think our lives and our thoughts are that important and precious? Are we that egotistical, that narcissistic? Do we really love ourselves that much?
You know what? Yeah. I do love myself. Actually, I think I’m pretty great to be honest. And so should all of you. Love yourself. When you love yourself, other people notice and it starts a chain reaction. They begin to love themselves. Soon, groups of people are loving themselves, then whole communities, then nations, and eventually the entire world is going to be loving itself. And when we love ourselves, we realize just how important and precious our lives are. We understand that we as human beings deserve certain things, every single one of us. We deserve kindness, fairness, justice, respect.
We deserve to not have our opinions and ideas immediately shut down because they come from a younger mind.
We deserve to not be ridiculed because we’re a little bigger or a little thinner than somebody else likes.
We deserve to not be called names or looked down upon because we suffer from a disability, whether it be physical or mental.
We deserve to not be told that our religion is oppressive and incorrect when we peacefully practice our beliefs.
We deserve to not be kicked out of our homes because we love the wrong person.
We deserve to not be shamed for walking into the bathroom that we feel suits us because we don’t fit somebody else’s definition.
We deserve to not be gunned down because of the color of our skin.
We deserve to not be murdered because we won’t give in to someone else’s advances.
We deserve to not be killed because we don’t look how someone else looks, act how someone acts, think how someone else thinks, or love how someone else loves.
We deserve to think positively about ourselves, when there is so much negativity surrounding us.
So, go ahead. Post another selfie, because, yeah, you do look good. Make another status about “What’s on your mind,” because, yeah, it does matter. Post about that movie you love or that song you hate. Do it for the vine. When people ask why, become Generation “Why not?” Scream out into the void without waiting for, expecting, or needing anyone else to like your idea or accept you, because you love yourself and you understand that human life is an incredible thing. You realize that you deserve so much in this world, as does everyone else because we are all deserving of love.
Up until this point, I think we’ve all been lucky enough to have parents and teachers that love and care for us. Pretty soon, though, our parents might not be right down the hall and our teachers might not care as much. So start loving yourselves. If for nothing else, Class of 2014, we deserve to love ourselves because we’ve made it this far, and we’ve got so far to go. I look forward to keeping up with all of the great things you do in the future, 140 characters at a time. Thank you.