My youngest daughter graduates in a few weeks. No, not college graduation, nor even a high school graduation (so there will be no famous speaker like those featured yesterday here on The Wisdom Daily). This is an 8th-grade graduation, but there is nothing “just” or “only” about it.
The fact is, if someone had told me 13 years ago that our wonderful daughter would be graduating grammar school as a typical student, I would have told them that they must be smoking crack. To be sure, part of that estimation would’ve been a product of my own fears, regarding a series of challenges that our daughter faced (or might face, according to doctors), and my own self-protective practice – unhealthy to be sure – of assuming that the worst of them all would come true.
You be you, my love, and both you and the world will be happier and better for it.
So, some of this graduation really is not as big a deal as I feel, because the challenges were not as dire as I feared. That’s lesson number one to my daughter and to myself: Don’t ever allow the fear of what might be to frame your experience of what is, nor limit your sense of possibility. Be aware of the challenges you face, both actual and potential, but be just as aware of the potential to confront and then transcend them. Frankly, that’s how this graduate of ours does pretty much everything, so those words are really directed toward me.
But to the graduate – after reminding her how much I love her and am proud of her – I would quote Mellody Hobson’s recent USC commencement address: “You will have significant challenges in your life….And you know the best way to confront those inevitable challenges and struggles? Just add bravery.” And I would continue: “Actually D, that’s already how you operate, so again, I realize that while I’m your parent, in this regard, you are my teacher.”
I guess what I would say to our beautiful daughter as she graduates is simple: You be you, my love, and both you and the world will be the happier and the better for it. We promise to help.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.