The Paly Voice acquired the following speeches from their authors, with their authors’ consent to publish. The authors wrote the speeches with the intention of delivering them at graduation, but were not selected by a panel of staff members. The views stated in these speeches do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice, nor those of its staff.
Graduation Speech: Anant Marur
Hello everybody, my name is Anant Marur.
Please refrain from sticking out any arms, legs, or other appendages, because I’m about to take you on a ride.
An old, wise, albeit unknown man once said, “an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.” I’m pretty sure that’s from the Magna Carta, but it doesn’t really matter what song it’s from.
Jokes aside, you’re probably thinking, “Anant, you’re graduating. It’s a tad late to cram for that physics final.”
To that, I have two answers. First of all, it’s never too late to cram. If highschool has taught me anything at all, it’s that.
Second, and perhaps the more profound point I wish to make, is that Newton’s First Law extends far beyond the constraints of blocks resting on inclined planes.
Allow me to elaborate.
High school is an enigma. There’s an overabundance of analogies I could use to describe high school – I could call it a jungle, a football game, a small country, and I’m pretty sure there’s some conceivable relationship I could draw between high school and a pudding cup, but the truth is that none of them fully capture the complexities of high school.
Between learning everything from oxidation numbers to correct condom usage, meeting everybody from Shakespeare reincarnated to some interesting hybrid of a gorilla and an armored tank, and dealing with everything from asking that one girl out to asking that one teacher to round you up, it’s safe to say that high school is quite a beast.
Yet, we slayed it. We smote this beautiful, demented, son of a –, wait, there are kids here. My bad, let’s keep this PG.
Being the deep, transcendental thinker than I am, I sat on that safety hazard that we call a senior deck many a 5th period (sorry Ms. Angell) pondering this extraordinary feat. Hordes of freshman pour into this school, year after year, conquer these four years, and rise as unrivaled Vikings on the other side. What mysterious force could be behind this phenomenon?
Just kidding. That would be way too cheesy, even for a graduation speech.
Forgive me if my actual answer isn’t quite as enlightening or game-changing as I built it up to be, but the simple answer is “because we had to”. Whether it be our parents, our friends, or some esoteric notion that finishing high school yields some marginal benefit, every single one of my green-clad classmates over there had something holding them onto high school.
This reason, this driving force, leaves us with no option but to dive into the belly of the beast. I don’t know if I can speak for everyone, but I can confidently say anywhere inside the gastric system of any beast is far outside of my comfort zone. That venn diagram has zero overlap.
This brings me to the crux of what I wish to leave my classmates with – ditching the comfort zone. The microenvironment of high school constantly pushed us outside of our comfort zone, whether in the form of a difficult subject, a social encounter, or an idea we didn’t quite agree with.
This push is the ‘external force’ in Newton’s First Law that I mentioned before. Our minds aren’t designed to passively grow. Unfortunately, we can’t just leave our brains in a jar out in the sunlight for four years, and expect to undergo the transformation we have from our freshman to our senior year. In order to evolve as people, in the tremendous ways that we all have during the incredible journey of high school, we need to be pushed outside of our comfort zone – into the danger zone, if you will.
As we move on into the various walks of life, that external force will begin to fade. We will no longer be held captive in an environment in which our teachers and peers force us to grow. Complacency will tempt us and the comfort of habit, routine, and familiarity will draw us like moths to a flame. To everyone who finds themselves giving into this temptation, just note down this one mental picture:
Imagine yourself on the first day of freshman year, bubbling with enthusiasm and head chock full of clichéd notions of what lay ahead.
Now imagine that same kid, sitting here in your cap and gown, graduating high school. Unchanged, unaltered, except maybe a bit taller (unless you’re me, and you stopped growing in 7th grade).
Scary, right? I think I just saw my entire class collectively cringe. I hope I don’t sound too Silicon Valley when I say this, but progress really is the only way forward.
I’d actually like to make a small modification to Newton’s First Law. Everyone makes mistakes, after all, right Mr. Stern? Even good old Isaac. Here it is:
“After an object graduates high school, it will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an internal force.”
Be your own internal force. Push yourself into new situations, explore new ideas, and learn new things about yourself. I’ve already started. I gave this speech.