When I was a senior in high school, I entered my school’s competition to deliver a speech at graduation. I saw it as my chance to make an imprint on the school. You see, I kind of slid through senior year in the shadows while my best friends celebrated being crowned homecoming queen, prom queen and funniest senior. This was my opportunity to make my mark.
After many rough drafts, a severe case of writer’s block, two auditions in front of stern faces seated at a conference table and convincing myself that my speech couldn’t possibly outshine the 70+ others in the competition, I strolled in late to school one day (the usual) just in time to hear my name announced over the intercom as one of the two winners. I was beyond excited – this was going to be my ‘mark’.
Not only was I thrilled to be picked, but I thought that my message was worth spreading. My speech was funny yet sentimental and I knew that my classmates wouldn’t be able to sleep through it. Instead of picking a generic graduation speech quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK or Buddha, I opted for someone who wasn’t as popular among high schoolers – my gal Gilda Radner. The speech was appropriately entitled, “Delicious Ambiguity” and I absolutely couldn’t wait to share my idol’s words with new ears.
On the day of my graduation, all was well. The sun was shining and I was running from place to place with my friends snapping all the pictures we possibly could. My classmates, teachers and family were excited to hear my speech and we even planned a little prank where the senior class would do the YMCA in the middle of my speech. I headed into my school’s auditorium knowing that I would exit in our graduation march down to the football field & make my “mark”. We lined up and took one last walk through the high school. There were tears, hugs and recalled memories. The doors opened, the band played, and we started to walk outside.
Then what happened? It started to downpour. The sky was dark and the crowd was running everywhere for coverage. Being the optimist I was, I thought… well, it’s just rain, right? We’ll be okay. We took our places on the football field and the administration announced that due to the weather, they would hand out diplomas first and do the speeches after. Okay… I can deal with that. As the diplomas were handed out, the rain got worse. I was still optimistic. Our valedictorian got up first to start her speech… but she only made it through a few lines before the lightening started. Her speech was interrupted by the announcement that graduation was cancelled. For our safety, everyone had to leave the field immediately.
I wish I could tell you that I was brave. That I was optimistic and left the field in the line we were supposed to march out in with my head held high. But I wasn’t. I ran off the field in tears, went straight into the arms of my favorite teacher and started to sob. He tried to comfort me and then helped me find my friends. I was crushed… two of my friends practically had to carry me across the street to my best friend’s house. I refused to go inside and made my mom drive me home where I could lock myself in my room for a few hours. I was devastated.