This month we share the graduation speech of one of our recent graduates:
Today is the 18th of April. Right now, in front of you stands a girl who has completed the E-Nini-Hassee program, graduated high school, gained communication skills, healthy relationships, leadership skills, and most importantly self-worth.
Tatiana on her graduation day.
A year and a half ago, this girl stood in her room contemplating whether she would live one more day and almost made a decision that would’ve ended her life.
Right now, stands in front of you, a warrior.
I, Tatiana, am a warrior.
There are a little over 40 individuals in this room; 40 more warriors. Each and every single one of us have our own stories but today we are celebrating mine. In life we all have our own chapters with lessons that make us who we are. These past few chapters in my book hold some of the most important life lessons I will ever learn.
CHAPTER 1: The most interesting stories are those with plot twists.
It turns out camp was not a part of my plan, but here I am. Before E- Nini- Hassee, I was a hardworking student athlete with all the credentials for success. I maintained a high GPA with AP classes and participated in multiple Honors Clubs. I was a full time Varsity Rower and I worked a part time job on the weekends. I didn’t really have the time to be getting into trouble or the time to just be a kid. So how did I get myself here? Well, I lived a life of extremes. I had to be the best at everything and nothing could satisfy me. Unrealistic expectations was the rule book I lived by; not even a robot could survive those rules. This damaging mindset only brought shame and increased my fear of failure. If nothing would ever be enough then there would be no purpose for me to try. These two extremes, one trying too hard, and the other not trying at all, was a toxic place for friends, family, and myself. My life became unsatisfying and I lost sight of what’s important. I lost sight of happiness. It wasn’t until camp when I had my first genuine laugh in months. When something unexpected happens, like camp, it might just be what ends up saving us after all.
CHAPTER 2: I am the author of my story and my story only.
Throughout my camp stay I learned that I had a lot more control over my life and no control over others. I can recall the letters I sent to my parents asking them to parent differently. I know.
I truly thought I had the power to ask people to change and they would. If there is one thing I learned, no matter how hard I tried or how convincing I was, I could not make a single person grow. The only person I can change is myself. When learning that I was the author of my book, I had to stop playing the victim and start being the warrior. I think anyone who knows they have the power to change and does so, is a warrior.
At the end of my camp stay I also learned that I can’t be the hero in everyone’s story. Although I wish I had a magic wand, no one would ever learn anything if I did it for them. Chief Allison once told me that the best leaders are those who can own their mistakes. She also said that the best leaders are those who can go on vacation and come back to a successfully functioning group. As a part of my legacy here at camp, I hope the one thing I instilled in my group is empowerment.
CHAPTER 3: The end is really the start.
As I approached my final chapter here at camp, I started to panic. Just now am I becoming comfortable here and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want this to end. Camp has been my home for so long. When we approach the end of a chapter we forget that a new chapter starts on the next page. We are always growing, changing, and learning. Today I finish this chapter of my life, but I also start a new one. If you don’t like the end, then just start a new beginning. Tasarakkos means New Beginnings.
E- Nini- Hassee means Second Chances.
- Thank you.