Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Ohio University 2012 Graduation (Part 1)
Over the weekend I took a walk down memory lane as I returned to my alma mater, Ohio University for the 2012 graduation ceremony. This time I watched from a different view while experiencing new emotions regarding the graduation process.
It was just a year ago, I found myself standing in front of my brother's bathroom mirror rushing to tie my tie before sprinting to my own graduation ceremony. The night before consisted of the traditional "last court street shuffle" with my best friend throughout college. It was our last hooray and we made sure we re-lived every memory from our time on the bricks while anxiously anticipating the road that lay ahead. Again, the moments with my peers and the memories we created were far more valuable than following the rules or the guidelines of the university. It only seemed right that we both arrived a few minutes late.
This year I returned to Athens to watch my brother take his own stride across the stage. Unlike the previous year, I woke up with a sense of urgency. I can honestly say I would have been far more likely to miss my own graduation than his. Not because my graduation wasn't important to me or that I wasn't proud of myself. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would someday turn a tassel from the right to the left.
It is hard to witness your own progression and to actually feel personal growth. Sure, we can look back and compare where we were to where we are, but to physically appreciate the progression is difficult. With friends or family, we have a front row seat. We understand whether or not they are heading in the right direction. This is why it is so important to speak up when we see them take a wrong turn or to encourage them when they deserve a pat on the back. With my brother, I have been blessed to watch his transition and his progression.
Always older and 2 steps faster, my brother was in my eyes, my only competition. In sports, in school, while eating, I even wanted to wake up before he did when we were little. As the younger brother I was fortunate to learn from his mistakes yet still make my own decisions. Growing up I always thought it was difficult to walk in his footprints. Now I understand the advantage of having a worn path to walk on.
My family, friends, and enemies can all agree my arrogance is challenged only by Kanye West. It's been 24 years but I finally feel comfortable admitting where I gained this self-confidence and who I can thank for permanently instilling it into my personality; my brother. You see, as the younger brother I always gave the perception that I truly believed I was better than my brother at everything. Even though every bone in my body told me otherwise.
What I lacked in height, weight, speed, muscle or even facial hair (which I still have a hard time with) I made up for with confidence. I came off so fearless that I eventually made others take notice. Of course I was faced with the constant pressure to ensure my words were backed with actions but this is also where I became comfortable with pressure situations. Comfortable to the point I actually thrive on them.
Watching my mentor walk across the stage and to see the smile on my parent's faces was far more valuable than my 5 seconds in the spotlight a year ago. My brother has faced many trials and tribulations. Because of this my parents have also faced many situations that affected the color of their hair. But not once did they give up on their first born. Instead they supported him with love, encouragement and belief. The same formula all parents should use with their children.
My brother and I have been very fortunate to have parents who understood which life lessons must be taught and which life lessons must be explored first hand through trial and error. Whether they did so intentionally or not, it gave us the opportunity to allow us to become who we are today.
Graduation gave me the opportunity to reflect on the previous 24 years and to realize my brother has never been my "competition". He has always been my motivation, my inspiration, and my shoulder to lean on. He has always been my big brother. And just like he instilled my overflow of confidence when I was young, I promise to do the same to him throughout his next chapter in life.
Congratulations Jake! These words nor any other combination of words can explain how important you have been to my personal accomplishments and outlook on life. All I ask is for you to look at life much like an old game of one-on-one in the driving way.
Now it's your ball. Show me something.