Address by Ramon Sanchez, PVA Teacher
Good Evening Friends and Family
Buenas Noches y Bien venidos
I am so proud of you, we are very proud of you. For some of you it has been a long road. It is such an honor to be in the presence of some of the sharpest young minds in San Antonio.
I feel a special kinship with all of you. As a graduate of a charter school here in the south side, playing ball in the same gym some of you played ball in I know a thing or two about small charter schools. We have mix values of hard work, grit and determination with a burning curiosity, a progressive disposition to build in you, a genuine thirst for knowledge.
When I was asked to close tonight I got really nervous. Well to be honest I got scared.
It wasn’t a physical fear of any kind. Rather, I was simply scared of screwing this up. I kept thinking. What am I going to talk about?
But then it occurred to me, this is exactly what I HAVE to share with you. My firsthand knowledge of one of the most valuable and life forming things you can experience , fear.
That’s right. I’m here to tell you today that “Fear is good.”
Maybe you feel fear right now — fear that you won’t land a job, fear that you won’t find love, or fear that you don’t know what is going to happen after this day. These are all very valid fears.
Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.
To understand why fear is good, one has to stop viewing fear as a feeling, and start looking at it simply as information. Fear is good because it is our brain’s way of identifying the things we are ignorant about. Knowing this, we should look at our fear not as a reason to avoid the things that frighten us, but as a reason to engage them.
Needless to say, that fear of known physical danger is obviously and it shouldn’t be questioned or over-thought. But that other kind of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that shuts down action without any real explanation. When you feel that fear, let it be a trigger for curiosity.
Simply asking ourselves what we want is easy. A far more powerful question that can be much harder to explore, but has the potential to bring you breathtaking clarity, is simply: What do I fear? Remember I am not talking about spiders or the dark, I’m talking about what it is that is stopping you from being great.
So don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.
Indeed, the truth about fear, as with the rest of life, is that you’ll only really figure it out by living through it. So, get out there and live. Take your shots and engage your fears. And trust you’ll figure it out. Trust your instincts, trust your passions, trust your empathy, and trust your love. And trust that even fear itself will want to stop, drop and roll when confronted with the unstoppable passion and power of a Por Vida Graduate.
Remember to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
Thank you and congratulations!