Dear Class of 2022,
You made it! How joyful it is to watch you guys having a proper graduation day in person for the first time since the pandemic hit. While I know it’s still hard for many of you whose families living overseas to come to celebrate with you on this special occasion in real life, I hope you will soon be able to see your family.
Like the past two years when I wrote my personal commencement speech to Class of 2020 and Class of 2021, I truly treasure this time as it also forces me to reflect on what I would like to tell myself if I were to graduate with you guys. There’s one thing that keeps coming back to my mind this year:
I hope you give yourself time.
I hope you give yourself time to learn more about yourself, what’s good and what’s bad for you, why you want what you want and how you feel about what you do. I hope you have the patience to allow yourself to blossom with time — you’re not a robot — there are times that you may feel like it’s the end of the world when everything suddenly goes wrong, but trust me, it’s not the end of the world. When you experience this feeling, keep in mind that it’s the time when you have an opportunity to choose how you want to tell your story later on in life. You have the power to pick a happy ending and make it happen for yourself.
When instant digital touch-up, instant delivery, and instant connection become the norm, you will feel the increasing pressure to claim instant success, make an instant impact, or achieve instant #couplegoals. I hope you give yourself time to build your characters, your foundation, and relationships that last. Practice. Practice. Practice. Master your personal craft. Work hard to earn your credibility. Let your intentionality guide you in your actions. Get to know other people, including those who may not look or think like you. Write each other meaningful messages instead of just double-tapping. Pick up the phone and talk, or even better, take the time to connect with each other in person when you can. Don’t lose that human chemistry, even if it may seem as if the entire world were fitting in the size of your phone screen.
I hope you give yourself time to seek the right question instead of jumping right to a conclusion of any kind. Continue asking yourself “Why?” and “Why not?” even when you think you already have the answer. Challenge yourself to test your own hypotheses, for the better long-term goal isn’t to be right but to grow.
In a world full of noises, I hope you give yourself time not just to find but also proactively create stillness in your life, to treasure solitude and understand the power of silence, for it allows you to become enlightened. There are many things that you can learn from your personal research whether it’s through reading, watching, or listening to others sharing their knowledge, and by all means please continue doing them; but through regularly practicing self-reflection, you will be surprised how much wisdom you can also unlock from within as well.
I hope you give yourself time to process your feelings, heal from past trauma, and cultivate your soul. Having a beautiful soul is so attractive. While it may seem as though looking good or earning six figures were all it takes to be desirable, your soul is what makes a lasting impression.
After all, I hope you give yourself time to enjoy the present moment. As cheesy as it sounds – stop and smell the roses. Pay attention to each other when you have a conversation. Have fun! And bring fun into what you do. Everyone has their own way of defining success, but whatever it is, it’s not going to be considered success to you if you continue doing what you feel indifferent or negative about. So if you need to work hard to be successful anyway, better to have fun with it!
Keep in mind, though, that none of us has more than 24 hours a day so I hope you also give others time like you do for yourself and give yourself time to figure out who and what is truly important to you. They’re likely not going to be constant, but it’s crucial to understand that for yourself so you can prioritize accordingly at each stage of your life. When you give yourself time, you are investing in yourself. And when you’re investing in yourself, through time, it will generate compound interest that will not only pay you but also your community and our society.