Hey, you -- yeah, you, in the front row. Don’t move. Stay right where you are.
I have a message for you, for the kid who always raised his hand. You volunteer; you ask questions; you want to know why. You’re prepared and present. You’re hungry and you’ve always been this way, ever since you can remember.
They roll their eyes at you; they want you to shuffle through class, work and life. They want you to just get by -- like them. They sulk while you answer the question. They keep texting while you volunteer to go first.
However, while you’re busy trying, they’re busy missing out.
When you’re in elementary school, raising your hand makes you a teacher’s pet. When you’re in middle school, it makes you a nerd; when you’re in high school, a suck up; in college, a kiss ass.
At least, that’s what they’ll tell you. However, I want you to know that the habit of trying, striving, of giving a sh*t, in every aspect of your life — not just school — will turn you into a powerful person.
Even when it’s difficult or socially isolating, even when you might be wrong, never silence that beautiful voice of yours. It’s a part of your personality to care, but it requires more than your propensity to engage. You have to cultivate a character that continuously seeks to be better.
Intentionality and persistence for knowledge and for opportunity begins when you’re young. It starts with raising your hand, but it will end with a successful and potent future.
The truth is, those who show up run the world. You don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class; you don’t have to be the most qualified applicant for the job.
But if you try, if you step out on the limb and risk being wrong, you’ll find that the limb really isn’t all that crowded. Some areas of life are undeniably competitive, but if you are brave enough to try, you’re already more than halfway there.
If you have the courage to seek out opportunity, to actively participate in the creation of your future, to fearlessly have a say in all aspects of your life, you’ll find yourself in the minority. Your tenacity and confidence with your hand held high will guarantee open windows and limitless skies.
It’s more than confidence, though; insatiable curiosity broadens your scope and matures your perspective. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and admitting you don’t know all the answers, shows healthy humility and opens your mind to new ideas and interests.
In the classroom, asking why shows you that you are actively engaging and fostering true knowledge. To ask questions is to discover, and your exploration of the world may lead you to passions you never knew you had.
Understanding the nature of carbon bonding may not actually change your world, but the next question you ask may just lead to your future career.
This letter is a reaffirmation that knowledge is power. You’ve heard it before, but we really do exist in an Information Age, and access to knowledge is mostly self-driven.
The ones who ask the questions, who give the answers and who raise their hands, turn into the adults who get the best jobs, who contribute to society, who are effective, smart, motivated and powerful.
So to you, kid in the front row, keep on caring. Continue to participate, volunteer and try. Embrace failure as a necessary part of success. Don’t worry if you’re striving alone, you are miles ahead of the people who are silently passive behind you.
I have something to say to the shy kid in the back, too -- the quiet one, who tries just as hard, in his own way. You have something to say; I know you do.
You have a voice, a message worth sharing. The introvert in the back is just as valuable as the extrovert in the front. We need you; I encourage you to engage, and also to measure your participation on a different scale.
If it’s the fear of falling, realize the landing is soft when you’re intent is genuine. If it’s lack of interest, dig deeper and find a connection to something you love. If it’s because you’re tired, go home and get some sleep. Tomorrow is just as full of possibility.
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