Michael O'Neil – Graduation Address – June 9, 2021
When I wrote this speech a few weeks ago, I felt tempted to write it as a rave review of Brandeis. Unfortunately, ever since I was three, I have always been plagued with the temptation to constantly complain about every little thing that happens to me. All I can ever think about is how bad the food is, how bad the music is, and last but not least how bad my hair looks today.
Of course, no speech containing only complaints would ever get past a teacher, in fact, this one didn’t even make it past my parents. I remember that night vividly, my parents sat me down at a table and looked me straight in the eyes: “Michael,” they said, “surely ONE good thing happened to you during middle school.”
But to be honest with you, that story is completely made up. No parent or teacher told me to not complain in my speech. I was sitting in Advisory Class, thinking about how maybe complaining about how terrible my life is wouldn’t make the most heartwarming speech.
Then again, I told myself, if everyone wrote a speech about their fond memories of Brandeis, mine wouldn’t be unique, nor would it be interesting in comparison.
Here I am, about 40 seconds into my graduation speech, and I still haven’t said anything meaningful. I doubt anyone here has even been able to follow what I’ve been saying.
To be honest, I think that about sums up my entire middle school experience. I spent way too much time worrying about myself and second-guessing what I was saying. The problems weren’t around me, they were inside of me – as a result, I never truly got to live in the moment because I was always thinking ahead.
My plan for the future is to stop second guessing myself. I’ll leave the rest to the slow tug of life as I am pleasantly dragged through the years.