Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

The graduation speech

I never posted the text of this, even though I was asked to do it a lot in the summer. I don't know why I didn't, but I want to now. I used my own words a lot last semester. I tried to avoid falling into so many of the traps I tend to fall into. My good friend Marlaina podcasted the audio of this. It's at
Her blog.
If you haven't checked out her other excellent content, you should.


An Unseen and Unknown Hero: The Guide

Parents, hard classes, sickness, dirty laundry, people who stand in the middle of the hall obstacles... we all face them. Even after graduation we aren't exempt from obstacles and challenges. In life we don't often see obstacles before we face them. I don't see obstacles, even those obvious to the rest of you. I collect ways to get around obstacles and deal with them once I hit them; my favorite is using a guide.

We need guides. I'm fortunate, I have several. The one by my side now is Julio. But the kind of guides we need are those who care, know about pitfalls and help us get around them. Guides can be parents, teachers, faith, or friends. These guides help because they know what we go through. They know what always trips us. They remind us that what we're about to do didn't work last time and we'd be wise to avoid it. They warn us when we are being obstacles to ourselves with thoughts starting with "I can't." They catch us when we fall.

Julio is a great guide. Having someone who sees the problem and helps you avoid it is good. Luckily, my guides don't just guide around physical obstacles. They are friends who see me run myself down and refuse to let me continue. Others see something bigger than I can handle and do not let me fight it alone. When I got Julio, my friend Marlaina knew I'd struggle with the stress of Guide Dog school. She called to see how I was and helped keep my spirits high. After you graduate you'll still have guides to help you with hard things in life like the stress of college or a new job.

People aren't the only guides we have. We can also use experiences. I came to this school thinking I could do everything myself and never ask for help. That attitude got me a D plus average in Algebra II. As awful as that was, I learned that I can't always do everything myself and it's okay to ask for help. Hopefully, I'll have the wisdom to remember this in the future. You have experiences like this you can use.

Be warned, guides have caveats. You need guides who know how to handle obstacles,--which to go around and which to go over. One day, Julio and I were walking in the street. We came to a car, but Julio didn't show it to me. He can't go around cars until I tell him to; I had to make him show me. Instead, he jumped landing all four feet on the hood of the car. Needless to say, in this case, it was better not to follow. Guides can be wrong by telling you about obstacles you don't need to avoid or not telling you about ones you should. Past experiences are good guides, but don't be limited by them. So what if you did poorly in something before. You can improve in that area. Julio hasn't jumped on the hood of a car since.

Don't become completely distrustful of your guides either. I can't count the times someone told me about stairs in front of me. "Okay," I'd say... then promptly fall down those stairs. In this case, it's not my guide's fault. Guides cannot protect us forever, especially when we will not listen. Even when we mess up, guides can help. They console us. When I fall down those stairs, my guide still helps me find a band-aid to patch up a scrape or if it's Julio, lick it.

I know we're all excited to get our diplomas and party. But as you continue to face obstaacles, think about and thank the guides in your life. They aren't done helping you yet.
Tags: college, guide dogs, life milestones, my writing

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