this is a long one but just bare with me, i promise the end is worth it.
last night i was laying on my bed, ready to write as i usually am at around 10:40pm. i was looking through some old notes i had, and i came across the graduation speech i gave as the guest speaker last june at my old high school back in standard, alberta canada. wow has a lot ever happened since then. i started reading my own words and my eyes instantly began to fill with tears. when i wrote this 7 months ago, i had no idea how badly i would need to hear these words in my life right now. i was speaking to them, but i was actually writing to me.
so, below is a copy of my full speech and i hope it brings at least one of you the peace and motivation that re-reading this has brought me. feel free to share and thanks so much for being here:) – xo, meg.
…I have to be honest that this isn’t GENERALLY the type of speaking or writing that i am used to… so when sitting down to write this speech I stared at the blank cursor for days. Since I had to assume that you guys don’t want to hear about the technical and business strategies that come with a photography career, I really had to think about what I wanted to say. The truth is, I’m not that far ahead of you guys. I was sitting in those exact chairs only 7 years ago. I started thinking… What would i tell my 18 year old self, knowing what i know now. And it would probably sound a lot like this.
The next few years are going to be a roller coaster so be ready for it. The excitement and stress that come with university, the wonder and adventure that come with travel. The heartbreak and romance that come with love, and the laughter and tears that come with meeting and losing new and old friendships. MOST importantly, the growth that comes with all of it. The independence you will learn and the strength you will build from just living.
The world will try and tell you things. That you’re too young. That it’s impossible. That you have to be this person and things need to be done in this way. But don’t listen to them. Trust in your instincts, you know what you can do. Your gut will guide you and when it fails you and you fall, you will find a way back up and be better for it. Don’t let emotions slow you down, only use them for motivation and drive.
You are capable of SO much more than you could have EVER imagined.
Do the work required to get you to where you want to be. Taking the long way around will get you much further than those who cut corners and take the shortcuts… Figure out what mark you want to make in the world and STAND for something. Not everyone is going to like you, and that is okay. Cherish the people in your life who love and inspire you and free yourself from negativity as often as possible. Pour yourself into those your serve and always be grateful. Things might not turn out the way you think they should, but remember to live for now and don’t wish it away. Try not to get caught up in chasing fame or awards or notoriety at the expense of doing what you set out to do. Success can be just as distracting as failure.
It’s OKAY if you don’t have it all together and if we’re being honest for the most part… you won’t. Don’t settle for anything less than the 100 year kind of love, and when you find it, you will know that it is worth everything. Once you close out this chapter and enter into the next, things are going to change. They are going to change but in the most AMAZING way. and yes it might be hard at times and there will be moments where you are scared and unsure, but I promise you… it’s worth it.
In 2007 I sat right over there as a Standard High School graduate just like you. I have experienced a lot since then, but in no way have I it figured out… I’m still learning as I go along and that’s what it’s about. Up until this point, in our numbered and graded part of our life, we are taught that in order to succeed we MUST be 3 things. We must be professional…… as in showing up on time, we must be trustworthy and have integrity in our work, and we must be competent in what we do….. up until THIS point, these 3 characteristics are everything. And even though they WILL remain incredibly important, remember that you now graduating OUT of this phase… once you walk out of those doors, these 3 things AREN’T going to be enough, in and of themselves. Outside of THESE doors, they are the minimum. If you are ONLY these three things, yes you will be ok. Okay just like everyone else. But you…. YOU deserve to be great.
One of my close friends is always reminding me that to do what everyone else is doing, how everyone else is doing it, will put you EXACTLY where everyone else is. The world will try to sell you these 3 things 100 different ways, but what the world doesn’t tell you, is that there needs to be a 4th element, and this 4th element, is what will make you. Something that we talk a lot about when we’re coaching other businesses is the idea of being great versus good, instead of good versus bad. We don’t only want to stand out from someone who is unprofessional, untrustworthy and incompetent, and in my experience there aren’t a whole lot of people advertising those things about themselves anyway. Every single one of you sees the world differently, and it’s this unique 4th thing, that will make you great versus those who are good. It’s celebrating that quality that you love about yourself that is very likely now, misunderstood. It’s your unique perspective, your innovative approach…. It’s that thing that maybe made life here within these walls, difficult…..but out there, that thing, whatever it is, is going to set you apart. It’s going to be your ticket. For me, it’s the desire to live an enchanted life. I believe that happily ever after is a choice anyone can make and that life is filled with enchantment, all you have to do is look for it. This concept really didn’t fit well in school, and still not everyone agrees, but the people who do… THOSE people.. they get me.
Being in a business where there are thousands of photographers, probably in this area alone, who are all claiming to be professional, trustworthy and competent, I have to remember that there is only one of me. My business coach jeff jochum always says that anyone can copy what you do, no one can copy who you are. Embracing this has allowed me to shoot weddings in 7 different countries in the last year, because even though those brides in France and New Zealand and Cuba and Hawaii had hundreds of professional, trustworthy and competent local photographers they could have chosen. I was the ONLY one who saw them in the enchanted way that they wanted to see themselves.
By declaring and celebrating that ONE thing about myself that was misunderstood for most of my life, where I was often told that life was NOT a fairytale, and that I was just spoiled….. THAT one thing outside in the REAL world, is what makes me.
It has allowed me to excel in an amazing career doing what i love. It has allowed me to come alongside other business owners and help them succeed. It has allowed me to partner with other like minded people on exciting collaborative projects, and frankly it has allowed me to be here tonight, with you guys. What an honor.
So as the world tries to convince you that good is good enough. Let’s fight to be great. Let’s take that thing that has always been misunderstood and let’s MAKE them understand. YOU tell the world who you are instead of letting them decide. And if you do this, if you become this… when the rest of the world is begging for attention, people will be begging for yours.
I’m so proud of you. And just know… the world is SO lucky to have you.