Tomorrow you will finish your middle school career. Eighth grade graduation. You will walk across the stage – or the gym floor in this case – and be done with this chapter of your life. In a few months you will start high school & I want to tell you how proud I am of you. Not because you finished eighth grade. Look around you. All of your friends just did the same thing. In fact, 99% of the people over the age of 14 in this country have accomplished the exact same thing.
No. I’m proud of you for how you accomplished it.
It’s been a long road. A few weeks ago, I watched as friends of mine posted pictures of the eighth grade graduation from the school you used to attend. I’m still friends with some of the parents & it was amazing seeing the pictures of all of the kids you knew – the ONLY kids you knew from the time you started pre-school. It was bittersweet. I loved seeing the pictures. All of your former classmates looked so grown up & I was so proud of them. But at the same time, I wished you could have been there with them. I wished your family had turned out differently & that you could have graduated with Emily & Lynnea & Sean & Nicky & even the other Nicky.
But sometimes life takes you in other directions. Sometimes your parents get divorced & you have to move to a school where you don’t know anyone & your mom gets diagnosed with breast cancer & things just suck. (see MomDay Monday – Cue Alice Cooper ) But sometimes those things that suck make you stronger & bring out things in you that you never knew were there, waiting to be discovered.
Because you felt alone, you withdrew into that laptop that you earned, honed your drawing skills & now have almost 500 followers on Instagram who love your art.
Because you hated track when you tried it, you started swimming & have what your coach calls “a natural ability.” You kicked ass at your first few meets & I heard the word “Olympics” come out of your mouth the other day. Go for it. I’ll be behind you every step of the way.
Because you saw bullying in your new school – which is admittedly “rougher” than your previous private school – you learned to stand up for others. I’ve watched your social media & seen you speak out against bullying, champion suicide prevention & raise your voice in support of your LGBT friends.
Because you are you, you’ve met some incredible friends on this journey. So today, instead of graduating with Emily & Lynnea & Sean & Nicky & the other Nicky, you are graduating with Lilly & Shania & Raymond & Julie & Andrew & a huge group of people you never would have met if you hadn’t come to the school you are now leaving.
And just when I was feeling sad that you weren’t graduating eighth grade with your original group of friends, you said to me, “You know, mom… if I hadn’t changed schools, I don’t think I’d be doing any of the things I’m doing now. And I know I wouldn’t have met any of the friends I have now.” I nodded & smiled & agreed with you. Then I went upstairs to my bedroom & sobbed.
It’s been a long road. But you have persevered. You have endured. And for that, I am proud of you.
Because you are you, you love this song. And I totally get it. Keep your head up. Nothing lasts forever.