Seto shifted uncomfortably in the summer heat, grimacing at the sweat that was slowly pooling under the fine weave of his shirt sleeves. Normally, he eschewed any gathering like this. He hated them.
Why in the hell did he accept the invitation to speak at Mokuba's high school graduation?
Because Mokuba had asked him to give the commencement, and Seto felt both too touched, and obligated to say no.
He really should have. What could he possibly tell a bunch of teenagers about navigating the world? What could he possibly tell them that would be of any use? Warily, he eyed the immense swarm of teenagers. It wasn't his responsibility to deliver a Sermon on the Mount. All he had to do was give them a pretty speech on behalf of Mokuba and exit quickly. Seto had actually spent weeks attempting to cobble together something that didn't sound like a business lecture. Everything he wrote sounded idiotic, or like something he had pilfered from a Halmark card.
Seto's eyes held their usual glacial scorn, and only warmed when he caught a glimpse of Mokuba. Cracking an almost gentle smirk that was all too brief, Seto felt his heart soar when Mokuba grinned back from beneath the black mortarboard. Seto gave him a curt nod before turning back to the podium. The chatter from the class of new graduates in the seating area before him had grown even louder. Scowling now, Seto saw that the microphone was several inches below his mouth. The air was filled with a shrill mechanical whine as Seto tried to adjust the thing. The crowd winced at the horrible noise as Seto grit his teeth, and lowered himself to nearly laying on his elbows across the podium. Nearly straddling the podium, Seto cursed the awkward angle. The hell with it.
Gazing out of at the sea of teen-agers, Seto narrowed his eyes.
"So. This is the class of 2012." His lip curled as he sighed in vague disgust. Shaking his head, he continued, trying to force the ice in his voice to melt a bit. It didn't.
"If you are expecting me to laud and applaud you for the simple act of passing your academic requirements, you are in for a nasty surprise." He paused to relish the murmurs of dismay before he continued. "I'm not going to stand before you and pander to your egos, tell you how special you are, or how bright a future lays ahead. I can't, you're not, and it may not be. I can tell that I've already angered some of you. Were you seriously expecting anything else from somebody like me? Think about your reaction for a moment. You're probably thinking how arrogant, how self-centered I am to ruin your little ceremony. Think what you will. I don't care. I don't care if you take it to heart, what you do with it, or how you take it. All I ask is that you consider your reaction for a few moments. For those of you who don't know, my name is Seto Kaiba and I am the president of KaibaCorps."
He narrowed his eyes at the sudden hush before continuing. "I know that in a typical commencement speech, you're usually given some flowery exhortation to aim high, follow your dreams. Spare me."
He rolled his eyes before resuming. "You can get that from a Halmark special. Today, I'm going to tell you something that you'll probably never hear again: what not to do with your life, and what not to become. I imagine that most of you people have spent an obscene amount of time planning for a glorious future. You've probably been swallowing that garbage about how bright your dreams are, and how all you have to do is simply stride forth and it happens. Take it from me, that's crap."
Seto smirked to hear the gasps of dismay, and waited for the indignant huffs to stop before continuing.
"Here is the reality, children. Not all of you are meant to be rock stars. Not all of you will see your names in lights. Not all of you will be famous. Why? For the majority of you, it will because you lack the luck and the talent necessary to make it that far in that direction. But the biggest reason of all is that it's not the direction you are supposed to go. Hear me out on this. Each of you has been given your own set of flaws and deficiencies. A lot of you have probably been told that if you truly work hard, you'll be able to overcome those faults. Most of you will waste your time trying to manage what you're not good at in the hopes that one day you'll be free from it. Stop. Your flaws, and limitations aren't put in place to keep you shackled. They keep you from going down paths you aren't equipped to go down, and spend your lives doing things you weren't put here to do. Each one of you has something you're gifted at as well. No matter how obscure or idiotic your talent may seem, develop it. Hone it. Strengthen it and see what happens. The existence of KaibaCorps actually came into existence because of my talent at chess, but that's another story."
Seto paused to give Mokuba a small, bitter smirk.
"Remember this: the more time you spend attempting to manage what you're no good at, the less time you and energy you have for investing at what works. And that rule holds for both people, and dreams. That brings me to my second point. You'll never get anywhere if you don't figure out who you are, what makes you tick, what makes you miserable. Some people waste their lives that way. So, here's some good advice to you. You really want to know yourself? Look at what you hate. I can tell by the way some of you keep shifting in your seats that you're really hating me right now. Why? My arrogance? The subject matter? I hate a lot of things, too. Long speeches being one, and giving you platitudes is another. You ever come across somebody that you loathe? Somebody that you can't stand? If you have, congratulations. You have been introduced to you haven't, give it time. You will. It's inevitable. Make life easier for yourself, and hate them. You are not mandated to cherish every idiot who crosses your path, and you're stupid to try. There's no Kumbaya out there. We don't hold hands and skip to the rainbow. And that's just life. But, if you're feeling a deep need for tortured introspection, and clarity, ask yourself this: How hard did this person have to work to earn my hatred? Do I hate them because of what they've done, or who they are? Hating somebody because they betray you or abuse your trust is perfectly reasonable. Hating somebody because of their externals or background only reflects what an idiot you are. In a sense, hatred should be given like a bonus. You should make people work hard to earn it. Know the difference. "
Seto drummed his fingers on the podium, before giving them all another glare. "I only have more bit of wisdom to pass on, then I'll stop. We tend to measure the worth of a life by the tangible amount of awards or acclaim a person collects along the way. Some of you will make the stupid mistake of assumption: that a pile of toys and trophies means a life was well lived. That's garbage. You really want to see how much a person has truly lived? You really want to see their worth? Here's how, then. Look at their scars. You know how scars form? Ironically, scars don't form from being wounded, they come from healing. Most of you will wind up with a few. Some of you will wind up with more. And if you wind up with none, you haven't lived much life. Don't judge other people for how they handle their scars. And don't hide yours. Above all, remember: the best scars are the ones you have earned. "
Seto glanced at his watch, and tried not to hide the look of relief. He was almost out of time.
"So, there you have it. Hatred, flaws and scars. That's life. Get used to it." He sighed, paused, and worked his mouth into more of a smile, and less of a smirk.
"And for what it's worth, I wish you all good luck."
Seto waited until the applause were loud enough to mask his grousing out, "God knows you idiots will need it."