When I was in 9th grade, I was a timid 14-year-old lacking confidence in myself. I had been in the small school run by my church for most of my academic life, and I had just made the switch to the large (2000-student) public high school down the street, so I could participate in their new International Baccalaureate program. I was scared, I was supremely insecure, and I was extremely intimidated by all the horrible things I’d heard about “how public school is.” (hint: “not good”)
That year, my freshman year, I had some truly wonderful teachers. One of the teachers was our English teacher. She worked hard to have an engaging, uplifting, interesting classroom where we were challenged, but consistently supported and loved.
One of the posters hanging in her classroom was the text of Desiderata, a poem by Max Ehrmann written in 1927. It’s striking and powerful, and a wonderful centering reminder for me when I get caught up in everything around me. I’m sharing it with you now, with the hope that it’ll speak equally loudly to you.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
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