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Dear Class of 2024

Instead of a commencement speech, I have a story to share with you.

Two years ago, I found myself stuck in a place of profound discontentment, trying to break free from old patterns and desperately yearning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the tunnel seemed so dark and long that I started to question my own optimism, which is rare for someone who tends to look on the bright side of things, like me. I longed for a light. I longed for an answer.

I launched myself into a search for that answer.

During a spontaneous tarot reading session at a retreat, I ended up pulling a card that I could trade for a drink at the resort bar. I met the bartender.

- Strength? That’s your card?

- Yep.

- How interesting, this is the first time I’ve seen someone get this card here. Most people who redeem the cards with me get The Lovers, The Sun, The Star, or something like that.

- Really? Yeah… not sure how I should feel about it. I’m tired of being strong. I want to chill out too, haha.

- I like it.

- You do? Why?

- That means you do have the strength to overcome any obstacles in your life ;)

My conversation with the bartender lingered in my mind. 

There’s a Vietnamese proverb I love that goes, "lửa thử vàng, gian nan thử sức" (fire tests gold, adversity tests strength). It means that just as fire is used to test and purify gold, challenges and hardships test and strengthen a person's character and abilities.

It’s our job to recognize the strength within ourselves.

My dear Class of 2024:

I hope you recognize your strength.

Choose to use it to do the hard things and the right things. Use it to stand up for the underdog. Use it to power through your own obstacles and embrace growing pains. Use it to push boundaries, lead with compassion, and cultivate hope. Use it to let yourself be soft and vulnerable. Use it to help each other heal. Use it to ask others for help when needed. Use it to build character, build skills, build knowledge, build confidence, build bridges, build peace, build a better world, and ultimately, a brighter future.

Use your strength to make the impossible possible.

I got my answer. While it’s not “everything will be great,” I know it is “whatever comes your way, good or bad, you will have the strength to bloom in crisis.” And I wish you immense strength on your path, too.

Congratulations! ❤️


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