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No, I’m not going to tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to, or that you can be anything you want. The truth is that I don’t know if you can or not. And I never want to lie to you, even if I’m trying to be encouraging.

You may, indeed, be so fortunate as to discover what it was you were put upon this earth to do and succeed at setting out to do it. Nothing would make me happier than to see each of you driven forward in singular focus toward something that fulfills you and watch you conquer it. If life continues to open doors for you to that end, know that I am confident that you can walk through them. You are more capable than you know.

But if not? You can do that, too.

You can fail. You can stumble. You can hurt. You can watch your dreams die, your ambitions get crushed, your decisions result in failure. You can do all of those things. And you can do them well.

You can stare defeat, grief, heartache, misery, success, pride, jealousy, love, work, friendships, …everything… in the face, and you CAN do it.

You have the strength within you to fail with grace and compassion to yourself, understanding that you are not the sum of your failures.

You have the courage to get back up when you’ve been beaten down.

You have the humility to ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others, and the humanity to forgive those who have wronged you.

You have the intelligence to know where to set boundaries with your time, your energy, your money, your heart, and your mind. You also have the right to rid yourself of anyone who would violate those sacred limits.

You have the faith to see a future full of hope, despite the circumstances you find yourself in.

You have the resources to seek help.

You have the honesty to evaluate yourself and determine where and what you need to do to improve your life, your position, your surroundings, your relationships, or maybe even yourself.

You have the adaptability to accept what is, but the fortitude and confidence to control what you can for the better.

You have the creativity and the persistence to see new possibilities and the optimism to go after them.

You have the respect, not only for yourself, but for others that you can use to control your own actions in order to live with sincerity, kindness, peace, and joy with those around you.

You have the diligence to work for all that is worthy, and the resourcefulness to figure out what those things might be. Once you have found those worthy things, I know you have it in you to be dependable, loyal, patient, trustworthy, caring, and committed.

You can submit to authority in meekness with a keen eye toward fairness and equality, but also take responsibility in times of need and lead in the spirit of cooperation and self-confidence.

You can communicate with tact, persuasiveness, temperance, and truthfulness with prudence to how your actions affect those around you.

Above all, you can be thankful that no matter how many times you have failed, or fallen, there is almost always the opportunity to make things right and try again.

I look into your little faces every day and in many ways, with each passing day I see a little more innocence slip away. Slowly, the frustrations of life are starting to creep in and you are discovering just how difficult it can be to move within this world.

But I know you can do it! I know that no matter how anyone else measures success, I know my children are capable of building the foundation of who they want to be so that no matter what life throws at them, they can welcome it and be victorious, no matter the outcome.

You got this! Now go out there and do it!