Guest Editorial

Message from this year's Oceanside valedictorian

By Gabrielle Simmons | Jun 14, 2018

Hello everyone. It’s truly an honor to be here tonight speaking in front of families, friends and faculty, but most importantly, to my classmates, whom I hope to inspire just a little before we walk off in all different directions.

For our entire life, we’ve been under a microscope. We have been watched, tested and influenced — by family and teachers — yet in just a few hours that all will change. We will no longer be confined by the unvarying routine of high school. We will wake up every day to something new and unfamiliar. We will make the decision to chase our dreams or not. For the first time, we will structure our life to what we desire.

I think that is one of my biggest fears: not waking up every day doing what makes me happy. But what sparks that fear is another fear that I believe resonates strongly within all of us and is a factor in all our life decisions — the fear of what others think.

We all know the famous line, “Your eyes are the windows to your soul.” But I like to look at it from a different perspective — from the inside out, because I don’t believe anyone can look into your eyes and see your soul. Your soul is deep within you. It drives you. It looks out to the world. It makes you who you are — all of us unique, all made up of different interests, a different purpose. It is special to you, and nobody can look in and understand the complexity of who you are. So why must we be in such fear of what other people think of us?

Some people spend their whole lives not doing what makes them happy, in fear of disappointing someone else. If you have anyone or anything in your life that is holding you to standards you believe are unhealthy or unfit for you, why are you around that? Why are you around them? One thing you will always have is your ability to say no. It is scary to stand up in a world where everyone sits. It is scary to voice your opinion when it seems like others don’t even have one. It really is scary to be true to who you are, not the way society says you should be, but what I’m talking about is the person you know you need to be.

It’s so easy to enter this confusing world and fill the role of mediocrity. It’s so easy to stay inside your comfort zone and not step outside of it in fear of making a mistake. If you haven’t made a mistake, you haven’t done anything. If you want the feeling of fulfillment, you need to step past the feeling of wanting everybody to accept you. Because the truth is, most people we will meet in our life are spectators. They sit on the sideline and watch. Do not sit on the sideline, be in the arena. Immerse yourself into something you are so passionate for. Don’t wait any longer. Act on your own creativity. Use others to inspire you, but don’t find yourself not being you. You do not need approval of your own dream. Because odds are, nobody will be able to see your dream. It wasn’t meant for them, it was meant for you.

So I ask of you … think about what really makes you happy. If that’s a difficult question for any of you, think about what you’d be doing if money wasn’t a factor. If you were able to close your eyes and ears to all the negativity, who would you be? Think about that one thing that makes you itch, that one dream that you might be too scared to go for — we all have it. The question is: are you going to do it?

Gabrielle Simmons is valedictorian of the class of 2018 at Oceanside High School.

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