I wrote this with all my friends in mind. It still surprises me how much we’ve all changed since freshmen year (well, maybe except Aaron. Not shown here). I also couldn’t have written this if not for my past teachers. Their words have given me hope and comfort years after graduation. If I can pass on some of that wisdom, I’ll be happy. =)
What would you do with the talents that were given to you?
In the Parable of the Talents, a man who was going on a journey left varying amounts of money to his three servants each according to his own ability. The first two servants doubled the money that was given to them but the third buried his share in a hole in the ground, incurring his Master’s wrath and in the end stripped of what little he had, he was thrown to the street.
For years I felt like the third servant. I had some talent but I wasn’t making the most of what was given to me. I finished a college degree where for most of the time I felt like a fish out of water. Eventually I landed a job that made me want to simply stay at home and call in sick. Everyday. For three years.
And herein lies the problem: I was too scared to discover what I really wanted for myself. Some people are blessed with the gift of certainty, of knowing exactly what it is they truly want or were meant to do. Sadly, I was not one of these people.
But one day, I decided to do something about it. I decided to study again, here at the College of Fine Arts in the hopes of finding something better to do with my life and to answer that what ifs that were bothering me for years.
Strangely enough, I discovered that this was an all too familiar story in the College. I got to know friends that came from fields as varied as Biology, Computer Science and even Economics – people who’ve finally found a home here in Fine Arts. The friends and batchmates sitting with us today are part of the reason that makes this place special. You, my friends, have made my stay here very special.
For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of studying with you and learning from all of you. I’ve watched some of you change and grow in different ways. The little girls that came in as freshmen are now young women and the boys…well, boys will be boys.
In the time we’ve spent here, college can seem like forever. The tests never seem to end and there always seems to be one more class to take or one more requirement to fulfill. And now that we’ve reached the end, it seems all too brief. College is the time of our lives; we will never be this young again or as carefree. Here, we make friendships that can last a lifetime or grow in ways that can dictate who we become in the future. Here, we begin to feel the weight of responsibility.
So that at the end of four years, we may have discovered that pride isn’t the only thing we take with us on graduation day.
There’s also Anxiety and Regret. Anxiety over the things that we did not do and Regret over the things that we did do. Anxiety over the future and over uncertain things like career and status and regret over missed opportunities, broken friendships, people we’ve hurt along the way and things we never got to say to the people around us.
Having gone through college twice, I realized that some things never change; but I was surprised to find that I had changed more than I expected.
Someone once told me that the test of a true vocation is the love of the drudgery that it involves. Here, many of us, including me, have begun to discover our vocation. I love what I do. And what we do here, if we push the boundaries of what is expected of us, can be magical.
I’d like to think that one of the reasons why we’re here is because a part of us remained children, because our vocation demands that we view the world with fresh eyes everyday. Perhaps the moment we believe that there is nothing new left to learn or discover is the moment we begin to age and die.
So I ask you my friends, to hunger for knowledge, as if our lives depended on it. Dream big and give birth to new ideas and new ways of seeing the world. Pursue the habit of excellence because the world has had enough of the mediocre; we should not add to their number.
But we must also remember that dreaming big, like all things carries a price. And just like giving birth, it is not without pain or sacrifice. We must continuously discern if we are willing to pay the price for our dreams.
Because when we leave this place, we will discover that the world will try to break us, not just with great force but with the promise of the easy way out. Little by little we will be seduced with mediocrity and complacency until one day we will wonder if there was ever a time when we dared to dream.
Here at the College of Fine Arts, our currency and our coinage is the idea. We trade in ideas, manifested in images, objects and concepts. What we do as artists not only clarifies the world around us but clarifies who we are. Who am I as an artist, as a citizen of the world and as a child of God.
We must show the naysayers that what we do here is important and relevant. Nobody else can do that for us but ourselves.
In the years to come, we must find something that we will want do with all our hearts. Perhaps most of us will spend the better part of our lives finding out what it is we are truly meant to do. Sometimes the promise of a bright future after graduation dulls over time, when the texture of the real world reveals itself. And that my friends is the lesson we will have to learn once we leave the University. There are no guarantees in life and we should live without excuses. Outside, there will be no safety nets and very little second chances. We will realize that there is no manual for human fortitude and that although the lessons we learned in the University will slowly be forgotten, the discipline, passion and work ethic we developed will be with us for years to come.
Ultimately, there will be more questions than there are answers and we will have to discover them for ourselves in the time that we been given.
All of us have a responsibility to the talents that we have been given. In graduating from life, I hope we can all achieve the honor of giving back more than what we have received.
I was blessed to be given a second chance at discovering my true passion. So the past four years for me have been a gift so that every day and every plate was not an obstacle but a chance to do something new. You and I are blessed to be here.
So let’s find out what it is we are truly meant to do and let’s promise to give it everything we’ve got. No half ways.
Lastly, I would like to thank the people who’ve made this day possible. I would like to thank the parents who have sacrificed so much for us. I would like to thank my parents and my sister who believed in me even during the times when they probably didn’t understand. I wanted to make you proud to make you realize that all this wasn’t for nothing.
I would also like to my teachers and professors, past and present who shared their knowledge selflessly over the years. It was a pleasure learning from you.
And to God who clarifies things and makes them evident for us to see. I have nothing that was not already yours. I can achieve nothing without you.
Thank you and God Bless you all.