“I don’t care what else happens, all I know is they better not cancel prom!” The words still ring in my ears as I heard my daughter scream from her room upstairs. She’s a high school senior, and like many of you, she became increasingly anxious about the possibility of not being able to go to her senior prom as concerns over the coronavirus grew and the list of event cancellations began multiplying. A week later as we stood in line to buy the shoes that would put the finishing touches on “a bomb fit for prom” (yes, we live in Georgia), she received the text from her school confirming her worst fear … prom was cancelled.
I’m sure you have similar stories. The world as we know it has changed. In fact, it’s been flipped, shaken and dangled upside down by a global pandemic that none of us saw coming. A buddy of mine posted something recently saying that he loved asking people where they see themselves in five years. While there’s never been a right answer, it’s safe to assume that everyone’s answer to that question back in 2015 was wrong!
But despite all the challenges, despite not being able to go to prom, no spring break trip with your friends and having to endure home schooling while being cooped up at home with your family for months, YOU DID IT! You’re graduating. While you may not be able to predict the future, you absolutely have the power to shape it.
I’d like to congratulate all the 2020 graduates. Graduation is an awesome accomplishment. Go ahead and tip your cap! You’ve earned it. But in particular, I want to congratulate the mighty alumni of Boys & Girls Clubs. As a fellow alum, I know that adversity, while not easy, is nothing new for you. You’re here because you made a commitment to the Boys & Girls Club theme of doing “whatever it takes,” and your determination is finally paying off.
I’ve outlined a few life lessons that I hope will encourage you as you approach graduation. Long ago when I was in elementary school, or the “stone ages” as my daughter likes to call it, our teachers trained us with a three-step technique called STOP, DROP & ROLL to deal with a crisis, such as a fire or natural disaster. Although the technique is old school, the approach is still relevant to how you’ll need to navigate the next stage of your journey coming out of this pandemic.
- Stop – Stop the flow of negativity
The first lesson we learned if a person is affected by a fire — and a crisis can often feel like a fire — is that they must stop any movement which might fan the flames or cause them to spread further. Your mind is probably racing with questions of “What if …?” or “How will I …?” It’s OK not to have all the answers right away, but it’s not OK to allow fear to overwhelm you. You have to stop the flames of negativity before they spread and remind yourself of all the good things you’ve been able to achieve. I’ve got three words for you: You got this!
- Drop – Drop the anxiety and count your blessings
The second lesson is that a person affected by fire or a crisis must drop to the ground and cover their face to avoid injury. OK, so stay with me on this one because you really do need to take cover from the likes of Instagram, Snapchat or whatever social media platforms out there may be causing you undue stress or anxiety. Shut ‘em down and begin to reflect on all the things you have to be grateful for. Thank your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends for all they’ve done to help you along the way. You’ll feel much better as a result of it, I promise.
- Roll – Continue to roll with the punches
Lastly, the person affected by fire, or crisis, must roll on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire. You know this one all too well! Your toughness and resiliency allowed you to make it through more than any of us could have ever imagined. And guess what? You’re still standing! The reality is that it’s not about what happens to you, but how you respond to it. You’ve responded beautifully so far, so hang in there and keep rolling with the punches.
You’re going to hear a lot of folks say, “You are the future,” as they wish you well during the next several weeks. I want to implore you NOT to wait until “the future.” You don’t have to wait for tomorrow to be great. Be great right now, right where you are. Yes, you are going to grow and get smarter and wiser, but you already have what it takes. The world is waiting for the very best that you have to give.
In the words of one of my favorite movies of all time, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it!” Be you and you’ll be great! Best wishes and God Bless.
Seth J. Freeman
Chief Marketing Officer, Buffalo Wild Wings
Proud Boys & Girls Club Alum
Help the Class of 2020 Celebrate
Graduation may look different this year, but it is not cancelled for all the Club seniors who’ve beaten the odds to get here. As we continue to help make graduation possible for more kids, help celebrate this year’s graduates by signing their graduation card.