Oh My Senior ‘21…

Dear J,

Holy Goodness. (Deep breath) Wow. (Another deep breath) I’m sort of at a loss for words. (Not really, I simply can’t form a sentence through my ugly crying.) You. Did. It. (And deep exhale.)

It’s been a week. I’m not sure how, but it has.

One week since you made your way across the stage of The Cintas Center on Xavier’s campus, to accept your high school diploma. One week since the world’s greatest AD gave you one last fist pump, before Dr. H handed you a fancy portfolio, signifying your successful completion of the required education in the State of Ohio and the ”It’s cool to go ahead and get after doing what you love.” you’ve been waiting for. (Silent loud cheers from Mama; possibly an unseen eye roll from you.) One week since, “Yep, you totally did it!” became the best five words strung together in a long time.

Now what? That’s always the question, right?

Parents typically define success for their kids along the lines of a good K-12 education, graduation, college, a clear picture of the future, and a first job that, in more than a few cases, brings you back to where you came from where you can settle down, get married, have babies and live happily ever after. Honestly, we had a similar plan for you when you stepped on the bus for Kindergarten in 2008. Over the last 12 years, we’ve come to accept, even champion, the idea that a successful crossing of the finish line isn’t one size fits all. None of us were made to be the same as the other; our life journey should be as unique as we are. So we reworked our parenting goals with the intention of instilling encouragement and values in you that made “success” possible on both the well-traveled and less-traveled roads.

Spoiler Alert: the lesser traveled roads often make success even sweeter.

First and foremost, without question, wherever life takes you, we don’t want you to spend your life in a career that finds you going to bed on Sunday, dreading Monday and wishing it was Friday. I know we’ve expressed this one countless times because, as you know, it’s a bit of reality under our own roof. It’s sort of become our parenting mantra and we genuinely hope it gives you the courage to live a life full of the stuff that brings you real joy. True, sincere, irrefutable joy. If more people did that, our entire world would be so very different. That’s how we were made to live – doing what we love and what set our souls on fire. Those are the things that will help cement your legacy. Whatever that looks like for you, go do it. Take your own road, knowing you have a small, always growing and loud army on it with you. No trepidation. No making other people happy. No holding back. Go – do what you know you were made to do.

Seriously. Do it.

Win or learn with humility, leave people and places better than you found them, know when and how to apologize, and don’t RSVP to every argument you are invited to or happen to stumble across, join the previously mentioned “Do what you love.” as our Countdown to Launch goals for you and C. If you refer to them as the next chapter in the story of you begins, we believe the rest really will fall into place. People will see so much more in you than a piece of paper, a resume, a car or house or sizable bank account could ever say about you. Your character is your most valuable asset; we put this list together with the hope it will give you some tools to be as amazing as we know you can be. Time will tell how well we did in accomplishing it all. I know we’ve screwed it up in a million ways; we can only pray we got it right in a million plus one ways. Growing a human that is capable of being awesome in this world is the most unreal task. It’s also the most rewarding one ever. And you are incredibly awesome, if we do say so ourselves.

Don’t be afraid to be awesome. We mean it.

Every tear, loss, hurt, sleepless night, fight, silent treatment, slammed door, mistake, failure, and sacrifice were worth it. More than worth it actually. Well, well, well worth it. Without it all, the complete explosion that erupted in my soul when you walked down the stairs, diploma in hand, to get a send-off from the world’s greatest principal wouldn’t have been possible. Finding the good is a skill successful, content and joy-filled people are really good at. When the losses, heartache, doubts, and sacrifices life will throw at you show up, I hope you will remember this day and all it took, the good, bad and ugly, to get here. It’s a victory and an even better one because it didn’t come easy. You can handle anything life drops in your path. And you won’t ever do it alone. Not ever. Never.

This is it. It’s your time. Your moment.

Go after what you want without the fear of “What if…?”

Trust yourself and all you are capable of doing.

Expect the unexpected – change really is the only constant in this world. (Good lesson COVID but we still hate you.)

Dream big, dream small – just don’t stop dreaming.

Live with just enough of a chip on your shoulder that it keeps the fire in you burning without weighing you down.

And, of course, have the best day you can have each and every day.

We’re so ridiculously proud of you and ready to see you show the world what you have to offer. You made it. We made it. What a ride it has been. I do believe we are all better people because of the 18 years we’ve done together. That’s celebration worthy. So celebrate – you’ve more than earned it.

I’ll leave you with the words of an incredible man, who after working through the latest crisis or celebrating a great victory, regularly asked the same question of the people around him, as a way of closing one chapter and preparing for another. “Okay people, what’s next?”, served President Jed Bartlett quite well. (Yes, Mama worked in a West Wing reference.) I hope those words will serve you well, too.

The Last of the Redskins.
The Last of the Fellow’s Fans.
What a ride it has been.

Anderson High School Class of 2021

Congratulations, J – you are absolutely ready for what’s next.

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