Keep Raising Your Hand

I’ve been listening to all the graduation advice, and I love what I heard from a teacher recently: Keep raising your hand.

For some reason, the words brought tears to my eyes. I remembered all those times I was too afraid to raise my hand when I needed or wanted something or when I had a question. Then, one day, I stopped caring what the others thought: I raised my hand. I asked questions. I kept asking questions. I kept raising my hand.

I raised my hand: To agree. To volunteer. To vote. To ask another question. To add to the conversation. To dissent. To be counted. To alert others. To offer help. To take on projects bigger than myself.

I raised my hand. In a million ways since graduating–from high school, to college, to graduate school–I raised my hand.

There were a few times I didn’t, and the memories burn in my mind. I wanted to speak up but didn’t. I wanted to nominate myself for a role but didn’t. I wanted to try out for a play but didn’t. I wanted to object but didn’t. I needed help on a math problem but didn’t (to this day, I’m terrible at math). I feared the crowd. I feared shame. Those times you don’t get back.

But mostly–thankfully!– I learned to raise my hand and keep raising my hand.

So I love that graduation advice: Keep raising your hand.

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