When I was a little girl I loved to dance; ballet, hip hop, jazz, you name it. Anytime there was a beat, I was there, dancing right next to it. My dad would even call me Mumble, Mumble is the name of the penguin who stars in the movie Happy Feet, that’s a movie of dancing penguins for those who’ve never watched it. Cartoon penguins of course. Haha. My fifth grade year, I had a dance recital in front of the entire school. And this recital was a huge deal because I had a solo.
I ecstatically told my parents of the occasion and told them to mark the date on both their calendars. I did; I even did that thing where you check off the days leading up to it. When the day showed up, I had my sparkly tutto on, hair pulled back nice and slick into a tight bun, and bright lights were devouring my body as I owned the stage. And if you know anything about dancing, you know that while you’re on stage you must be smiling at all times and looking at this specific point in the back wall of the room. Well I did the complete opposite, I was looking all over the room and my smile was starting to droop, and its all because I was waiting. I was performing but I was still waiting. Waiting for my father to show up.
When the show ended, all my fellow tutu-d friends went bobbing over to their fathers, who had flowers for them. That was tradition- fathers giving their daughters a bouquet of flowers after the recital. And I, I was sitting on a patch of grass, yanking at weeds and playing with dirt, you know being a kid, and waiting. I was waiting for my father to arrive, which in my mom's words was waiting for a miracle. But as a child we believe highly in miracles, so sadly it took me a long time to realize that my father wouldn't show up to the recital, he wouldn't show up when I was learning to ride a bike or blowing the candles on my birthday cake for six years in a row. It took me a long time to realize I'm not Mumble. I'm not a cartoon character in a movie with a happy ending. I'm a human being dealing with life! And there is no such thing as a happy ending for someone who is waiting. Think about it. Are you gonna buy a balloon from the man sitting in the corner or the one who's shoving the balloons in your face yelling at you, “balloon for five dollers”.
Look I'm no business women, but I'll tell you if that man wasn't shoving those air sacs in my face, one I'd probably miss him while walking by or two I wouldn't have to pay him to get out of my face. So if you're not waiting, you're being productive. And being productive gets you somewhere, being productive gets you those five dollars.
Every single person in this room has a dream. It may not be selling a balloon, but you do have one. For some it's starting a business, for some it's kissing their crush, and for some it's getting an A on their test next period. We all have one right now and I want you all to think real quick about what it is. What do you want. What's your dream. Do you wanna make your boss proud or do you want to be a boss. What do you want. (Pause) And now I want you think about what you've done to get your dream. To get what you want. What have you done, what steps have you taken to get there.(Pause) I would bet that half of you just went blank. Half of the brains in this room are blank because you haven't done anything to achieve your dream. You didn't start the business because you were waiting till you got money, you didn't kiss your crush because you were waiting for the right moment, you didn't study for the test because you were waiting for your friend to send you the study guide. Waiting kills. It kills your dreams, it kills time. Waiting kills and I'll be honest with you, it's killed many dreams and you know where they are now…. the graveyard. Millions of dreams and goals are locked in the coffins of graveyards because those people waited but I'm here to tell you that you can set yours free. You can do it. You can make your dream come true and I'm not just reciting that from Disney to lift your spirits, I'm saying that because it’s true.
The problem that gets in the way of you setting your dreams free is this. You are comfortable, satisfied with the routine, going to school or jobs doing things you don't like but must do. A lot of us don’t like the dress code here; we complain because we can’t wear a red sweatshirt. And I’m not baffled because people want to wear a different colored sweatshirt, expression of self, I get that, I’m baffled because people don’t do anything about it! We complain all the time, I do it myself and I hear it in the hallways. (pause) Have you done anything with your complaints or have you just told them to your friends in hopes that some mysterious being will solve it all.. Or wait we go to a private school, shouldn’t our daddys’ and mommys’ pay to fix it. It’s time you grow up. It’s time you grow up. That’s what my momma screamed in my ear when i only ten years old. It’s time you grow up! There is no miracle that’s gonna happen. He’s not coming. Stop sitting on the ground like a fool and getting your tutu dirty. (pause) And so I got up. I got up.
I didn't want to at the time, I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to grow up either but looking back getting up was the best thing I’d ever done in my life. You see because if I didn't get up, I would've ended up like everyone else whose dreams are locked away with them for eternity. I should hate my father for what he did to me, for abandoning me as a child, though in retrospect I love him for teaching me that waiting is not an option. That waiting is for weak. I can stand up here without hesitation and tell you I'm strong. I am strong and that means understanding (pause) that you have the strength to pick yourself up. You gotta pick yourself up whether it be from that patch of grass, that couch you sit on playing video games, that bed you’re on with the person you don't love. Life is short and if you're waiting for college or next year after you get that job, you're not doing it right. Do it now. Right now. When you go home, no heck in your snack break set your dream free. I challenge you to not scroll down Instagram and to do something now today that will help set it free. If your dream is creating a business, Start writing that business proposal, if your dream is kissing your crush, start by saying hi, if your dream is getting an A, make your own study guide. Set that five dollar balloon free and when you see it soaring in sky, you will remember this speech and me telling you, you are the only person with the power to set it free.