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Graduation Speech by Annie Chen, Beijing BISS International School

May, 2012
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img_9014First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve dragged yourself out of bed on those horrifying Mondays for 12 years. Finally you get a day where you don’t have to wake up at 6:45.

We’re eighteen. We’re at the beginning of the best time of our lives and it’s incredibly sad. It’s sad that the best times of our lives come at us at a time when we’re not sure of anything. I still have some memories of a late night physics study session, and can probably tell you all of Newton’s laws. But other than that, we basically know nothing. We’re not sure of our future, our feelings and definitely not sure of our dreams… heck, I don’t even know what a dream is. We barely made it through that annoying college application process where they ask us the most difficult and annoying questions. We’ve never been so confused and unsure in our lives, so unsure of ourselves.

When we were kids, we knew what flavor of cake we wanted, what shoes to wear for the day and whether we wanted to take that nap or not. We were so decisive then. Somehow, as of now, all that I’m sure of is that I’m wasting time. As I put on my pajamas and lie at home all day watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother, I can practically feel the little flutters of time swoosh by my ears. There are so many things I could be doing, should be doing- not just things that would be deemed as ‘productive’ or ‘educational,’ but ACTUAL things I want to do. I started writing a book, but I’m only 8 pages in and now I’m stuck. I should be spending my last few precious days in China conversing with my parents, going outside to bathe in the rare sunshine or even reading an interesting blog, but no. I sit and I do nothing. I sit and I waste time.  

Although there are so many of you listening to this thinking ‘OH GOD, THAT’S ME’ but still scared to admit it yourself… it’s not THAT BAD. It’s not that bad. You’re not the only one that hasn’t changed out of your sleepwear for days and only took a proper bath for this graduation. You’re not the only one that’s given the excuse ‘But omg I’m so lazy lately. Plus I’m so tired from having studied for 12 years straight…’



I’m not here to say vague words of motivation like ‘FOLLOW YOUR PASSION AND YOU’LL NEVER FACE ANOTHER OBSTACLE IN LIFE.’ In fact, I have a feeling most of you don’t even know what you’re passionate about. What I do want to say is that at this moment in life, it’s absolutely fine to feel confused and completely dumbfounded by everything around you.

People say that your life is a book and college is a new chapter of your life, a fresh start. As idyllic that sounds, people usually don’t get a fresh start in life. Are you completely and absolutely proud of the last 18 years of your life, of the good and the bad? Pretend you’re 97 years old and you’re looking back on your life. What would you like to see? Would you be happy with the life you’ve lived so far? Don’t strive for a perfect life. Don’t strive for a collection of only happy memories. Don’t strive for a large salary, for a career that would make your parents happy, don’t strive for a 4.0 GPA. Strive for the strength to get out of those pajamas, take a decent shower, strut out your door and do something you truly enjoy, you truly love and something you’d do even if no one would ever know about it. Strive for the courage to make something of yourself, to make the 97 year-old you happy.

Don’t live the life that only makes others happy. Stop hoping for everyone’s wishes to align with yours, because odds are- they never will. You don’t want to be an old person thinking ‘DAMMIT I WISH I COULD’VE CHANGED SOMETHING’, because when you are old and wrinkly and lying on your death bed, all you should be thinking is how proud of yourself you are, how worthwhile your life was.  


- Speech by Annie Chen, Class of 2012,

Beijing BISS International School


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