This Place Is Special
As I’m beginning my last semester of classes at A&M, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on all the memories I’ve made, lessons I’ve learned, and the good times I’ve had. Words honestly can’t express how much I’m going to miss attending this truly special university. This past August, I was asked to give a speech at T-Camp 2017 (shout out to Camp Kennedy). I think that it does a really good job explaining the lessons I’ve learned and why A&M is so important to me. So here it is:
Can I ask y’all a favor? I’m going to get kind of real with y’all, so I want y’all to be real with me. At any point while you are reading this, if you feel like you can relate to or connect with something, can you please whoop to yourself? Doesn’t matter if it’s a funny or serious moment! Can y’all do that? (Here’s your zp’s if you need them(: ) Okay, to try to kind of help y’all follow along, my speech has three parts to it. I have some life advice, then some Aggie advice, then some life and A&M advice mixed together. Simple enough?
Alright, first, I want to highlight two topics that I feel like most everyone reading this can relate to on one level or another. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert, I’m only 21 and I mean honestly my car key isn’t even on a key ring. If that doesn’t scream “I don’t have my life together” I’m not really sure what does. However, I do try to soak in as much knowledge and wisdom from other people as possible. I also watched at least 10 inspirational speeches to help me write this, so hear me out.
The first thing is about your passion and your dreams. Now if you shrug or draw a blank when someone says chase your dreams or your passion because you don’t know what they are yet, that’s ok. It’s ok to be unsure. Passion is a heavy word and not everyone will be sure. When I first started at A&M I didn’t chase my passion because like some of y’all I didn’t know it yet. So instead, I became passionate about what I chased and sure enough, after several trials and tribulations, I found my passion. I encourage anyone who just isn’t there yet in figuring out their passion to do the same because just because you aren’t sure of your dream yet doesn’t mean you can’t have the ambition to chase it. Now, for the very fortunate part of this room that had that one thing immediately pop in their head when I mentioned your dreams. Don’t live your life passively. If you know your purpose and your passion that is a gift in itself. Don’t let it go to waste.
Alright for the second thing, promise not to get awkward on me ok? This is something I promise everyone has dealt with and will continue to throughout y’all’s lives. Love and relationships. I know I just lost half the guys who are reading this attention, but hear me out!
If you aren’t happy in your life, nothing else matters. I’m going to repeat that again. If you aren’t happy in your life, NOTHING else matters. When it comes to love, you need to know 3 things. And yes I am a love doctor, I can show y’all my degrees later.
To start with, Love yourself. - Work on yourself and believe in yourself because no matter how happy or whole a person made or makes you feel they don’t define you or actually make you whole. Discover yourself so the person you’re with can challenge you to be greater.
Next, Love honestly. - I think some of us grow up thinking it will happen like magic, we kind of just expect to have this feeling and know when it’s right, but I think most of us can attest to the fact that it doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. Making a relationship takes constant choice and you must be honest with yourself. That means understanding your emotions and respecting your partner. Learn the difference between a relationship that needs work and one that’s not going to work. Learn to forgive - others and yourself. This is important because hurting people and getting hurt is inevitable so be thankful for those that don’t harbor grudges or guilt and try to be that person.
Last thing about love and then I’ll move on to the Aggie advice. Love your family. If you’re lucky enough to have a family be thankful for the love you receive and the fact you have the opportunity to give it right back. And if you don’t have a family to give your love, I have good news for you, you now have the Aggie Family.
Speaking of, congratulations! You did it, you are an A&M student. Hopefully, you have already started to see how special this university is. While you’re at A&M take advantage of everything. Go to the football, basketball and baseball games. (Please don’t sit during the games, I’m begging you, it’ll break my heart) But if at the end of your time at A&M someone asks you what your favorite tradition is and you say Aggie Football, you didn’t take advantage of all this school has to offer.
Attend Silver Taps to stand for the members of our family who no longer can and their families. You have no idea how big of an impact it has on a grieving family to get hundreds of letters from people who may or may not have known their loved one. And then to see the Aggie Family come together to remember and honor them. This place is special.
Attend Muster and say “Here” for the members of our Aggie Family because just like you, their time at A&M started with a Howdy and just like them your time on this Earth will end with your name being called and answered with a Here. This place is special.
Go to Bonfire Memorial. And attend the remembrance ceremony next and every November you spend in Aggieland. If you need motivation, whether it be to get you through a test or paper or even just to get you to the next day go out there. “The Bonfire Memorial embodies many layers of meaning associated with the Aggie Spirit — a deep sense of belonging, a strong spirit of teamwork, and leadership and an enduring sense of tradition that unites thousands.” This place is special.
Strive to get that Aggie Ring because that little piece of gold is more valuable than you can imagine. Aggies like to help Aggies out and that ring will give you plenty of examples of that throughout your life. Between ring scholarships, Ags helping Ags find their lost rings, and people getting jobs they may not be the most qualified for because of that little piece of gold on their right hand. This place is special.
Take a date to midnight yell or just go with your friends. Laugh at the fables, take part in the yells, sing the Spirit and War Hymn, flick your bic or grab your date and mug down, and get ready to beat the Ever Livin’, Ever Lovin’, Compound, Complex, Hell out of whoever we are playing that week. This place is special.
And finally, don’t be afraid of failure. Everybody will fail at some point, so if you haven’t already, you better get used to it. Because if you never fail, you should take that as a sign you’re not really trying. Get out there, give it all you got. Doesn’t matter how smart you are, what skills you have, or how much money you have. What are you going to do with it? Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing. I’m sure people in life have told you to always make sure you have something to fall back on. Denzel Washington once said he didn’t understand that. If he’s going to fall anywhere, he wants to fall forward, because at least that way he knows what he’s landing on. At the end of the day, failure will help you figure out your path.
So, Fall Forward.
When I first came to A&M, I was an automatic admit because I was top 10%, I was a member of NHS, I was in PALs, on the youth board at my church, captain of my high school soccer team, leading goalscorer for three years straight, and I had traveled the country and even went international with my club soccer team for tournaments. I thought failure was coming in fourth at Nationals or getting a B on a test. Lol at high school me. I came to A&M, made a red-ass 18 (A-Whoop!) on my first exam. (I don’t recommend, please study hard.), ended up dropping two classes and only finishing the semester with 6 hours. Got rejected by every organization I applied to my first semester here. Switched out of engineering to General Studies. And I had my mom telling me I was going to have to leave A&M and go back to San Antonio to attend a community college. I felt like a complete failure and I didn’t get it. I continued to fail, but wouldn’t give up. My second semester, I got rejected from being a fish camp counselor, which is what I wanted more than anything and I finished my first year here with a 2.0 GPA. But they say if you hang around the barbershop long enough you’ll get your hair cut. And well I did. I changed majors to Sport Management, and I never thought I would be this excited for my future career path. I got accepted to one organization my freshman year, and that was to be a counselor for T-Camp 2015. I eventually went on to be a chair and then director and I got to help impact so many people’s lives along the way. And I got lucky that someone thought I made a big enough impact on their life that they gave me the opportunity to share my story at camp. The point is everyone has what it takes to succeed. But do you have the guts to fail?
I encourage you all, that during your time at A&M, you work on building your skills and not just your resume. Set up your life so that when you cross the stage you are just getting ready for the best time of your life. Don’t let college be your peak because you deserve for it to be just a stepping stone. Give it all you got. And if you do, you may fall.
But remember, Fall forward.
So it doesn’t matter if you’re from a small town, big city, or a different country. Doesn’t matter if you’re 17, 21 or 35. Doesn’t matter if it took you 1, 2 or 5 times to get into A&M. It doesn’t matter what your past looks like. Because now and forever you’re part of the Aggie family. In your time here, I really encourage you all to not just be A&M students, but be Aggies.
Fall Forward. This place is special.