A Gunn graduate's thoughts on success and happiness beyond high school

Publication Date: Wednesday Jun 17, 1998

A Gunn graduate's thoughts on success and happiness beyond high school

It's good to have a road map, but recognize that detours are part of the fun

Editor's note: The following Guest Opinion column was submitted to the Weekly by Gunn High School. It was one one three addresses given at the June 9 commencement ceremony.

by Adam Marchick

How to write a graduation speech:

1. Start with a famous quote.

"You have nothing to fear but fear itself."

"Don't judge a book by it's cover."

"Be careful what you wish for."

"Luke, I am your father."

2. Tackle a big issue.

What is success?

Do you know who you really are?

Does fate exist?

Is my hat on straight?

3. The big finish.

Answer question No. 2 in less than three minutes and 15 seconds.

In an effort to write my speech I thought it would be good to write an outline. After all, planning helps define your ideas and gives you a means to achieve your goals. In order to do well on a test you must go to class and do your homework. In order to find a job you must search for openings and be prepared for your interview. Planning makes life easier. If you have a focus and an action plan you know what you need to do and what to expect.

But by planning so rigorously do we miss something? At Gunn we have chosen what path we want to take and whether or not we deviate from it. Do you go to that movie or do you study for your big math test? Do you drop Bio AP or do you struggle through it? Many times after we make a choice we think the choice was wrong, especially if it deviates from our original path. If I hadn't seen the movie, I would have done better on the test. If I hadn't dropped the class, my transcript would look better.

We wind up feeling so guilty about the choices we make that we don't allow ourselves to see the positive of our choice. Maybe seeing that movie made you feel better the next day. Maybe dropping the course allowed you to be in the school play. Many times the choice is between what we want to do and what we feel we need to do. By planning you set up a list of expectations; you tell yourself what you need to do. A plan is a great way to start your journey, but you still must be willing to make decisions along the way. By not letting go of expectations you can not see that maybe the unexpected choice is the best choice.

For me to say that we should not plan is as ludicrous as saying that Paly is the best school in Palo Alto. But always be willing to re-examine the path you are in because it might not be your path. For four years we have fairly rigidly followed the expected path; now it is time to blaze new trails.

There is no right direction to go, just keep moving. Maybe after getting a degree in biochemistry you realize it is your destiny to revolutionize the art of origami. Happiness has millions of shapes, and the only way you will not achieve it is by not accepting the shape you have. It is always a good idea to have a game plan in life, but make sure you write in pencil and have an eraser ready.

Adam Marchick will attend Stanford University in the fall. 

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