“Just as nothing matters, everything matters”


Just as nothing matters, everything matters.

That’s your one-sentence summary of this column.

I don’t often give advice in grand, thematic speech form, so the reflection you read below won’t either. Instead, I’ll offer up my two cents just as I would on a FaceTime call to a friend — thoughtful, unsolicited and all over the board. Considering I’ve known much of this audience for the entirety of my 18 years of life, I wouldn’t imagine addressing you all as anything else.

Invest your time in learning, invest your time in experiencing, but above all else, invest your time in people. You owe it to yourself to look for the good in your friends, teammates and even assigned seat partners because you will almost certainly find it.

People are like evolving time capsules: each one holds a unique set of memories with you that you may have buried years ago. When you’re with them, you get to dig those up. It doesn’t matter that you may have drifted from some, or that you only see others at volleyball practice or in science class.

It does matter that out of all the people in this world, you got to know them, and that somewhere out there in someone’s memory exists a version of you that even you may have forgotten.

Realize you are not who people say you are. You’re not your harshest critic’s opinion of you or your acquaintances’ first impressions. You’re not your worst performance or even your greatest achievements and aims.

You are who your best friend and sister know you to be. You are who your parents brag about in the grocery line and who your younger self dreamed of growing into.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t checked all your boxes yet or if you did one embarrassing thing one time seven years ago. You are, and you get to be going forward, whoever you perceive yourself to be, so I encourage you to pass kind, forgiving judgments.

Remember that the best emotion to feel is bittersweet, and that this doesn’t excuse it from also being the hardest.
I couldn’t be more bitter to part with my high school classmates, my sport, my daily life at Blue Valley or my summer drives with friends down Mission Road in the orange Jeep.

Sometimes, it feels like I have to leave. I’m also beyond excited to go onward, move to Virginia and begin college somewhere I know I’m supposed to be.

That’s the sweet part. Sometimes, it feels like I get to leave and figure out for myself everything else that’s in store. The only constant in life is change — it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. It does matter that you try your best to be grateful anytime you’re caught in a state of “bittersweet” because bittersweet is a pretty damn good way to be.

Study for the test. Go outside. Reach out to people — they won’t think it’s weird. Stay up too late. Take naps. Change your mind. Change it back. Don’t burn a bridge just because it needs repair. Prioritize your people. Weigh pros and cons, but if it’s close, go for it.

Pet your dog more. Give advice, but remember to receive it, too. Turn your friends into siblings and your siblings into friends.

Buy a new perfume or lipgloss — it doesn’t really matter which, just as long as using it in two or three years’ time will instantly bring you back to right now.

Take pictures that aren’t good enough to post, then hang them on your wall. Realize that every person is a combination of the good and bad you’ve heard about them. Understand that nothing matters, and this statement frees you from the hesitancy and regret you need not carry any longer.

Understand also that everything matters, and each and every moment I’ve shared with all of you matters more to me than you’ll ever know.

So, thank you and good luck — not that any of you need it anyway.

Love, Charley