‘Tis the season. High school and college graduations. Caps and gowns. Speeches. Diplomas. Cameras flashing and postings on Facebook and Instagram. Friends telling friends they’ll never be forgotten. Parents wondering either how they’ll pay for college, or if their graduate will even want to go.
Swirls of emotions. Graduation Day is a day we’ve all worked extremely hard for. Whether it’s high school, college, trade school, medical school or law school, or a masters’ or doctoral program, it’s a very special day.
Sometimes, or shall I say most times, we don’t have a clue as to what’s next. What’s ahead for us. What the next few years will bring. We’ve been so focused on school, as in finishing school, that most of us never really thought about what happens after the strains of “Pomp and circumstance” are over; after we’ve thrown our caps into the air and gone to dinner or a party to celebrate.
Then you wake up the next morning and suddenly realize your whole world has changed. No longer do you have to go to school to learn how to do what you think you want to do; or to learn enough to hopefully get a job you think you want to do in the field you’ve chosen.
Suddenly it’s up to you to begin your future; to begin adulthood and become a “real adult”. To get a real full time job and take control of your life; your destiny; to begin a career.
And you suddenly realize you’re not ready. You’re not ready for that responsibility of “adulting”, in fact, that’s something you were never taught; how to go from student to working adult in less than 12 hours.
And it’s frightening. It would be much easier just to go back to sleep and wake up being a student again. Without the studying and test-taking of course.
But life doesn’t work that way. Life marches on day by day and ages us a day at a time. Your parents can’t understand how it happened so fast. Then again, in reality, neither do you.
Graduating from high school and/or college or graduate school is a really big deal. It’s a rite of passage into a whole other world. A world you’re not sure you’re ready for.
Let me tell you a secret. I wasn’t ready for that adult world either. Not when I graduated from high school. And not when I graduated from college four years later. I’d changed my mind several times about what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and the day I graduated from college I still had no clue. Sure I had a brand new bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. But not an idea in the world what to do with it.
My career path changed several times over my adult life. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing today, and wish I could’ve found this job several years ago. But it wasn’t the right time. I had to go through a series of jobs, learning a number of different skills, to be ready for this particular position.
I’m not alone in this. I envy those who knew from the beginning what they wanted to do, what they were called to be, and stayed on that career path. And I’m thankful for those doctors and veterinarians and teachers and attorneys; those mechanics and plumbers and electricians and everyone else who stayed the course and followed their dreams.
Some of us are called for one particular career. Some of us are called to do many different things in the course of our life. We never know until we walk through this life. But the choices we make at every turn; the decisions we make in going from one position to another similar position, all contribute to making us the person we were intended to be.
Graduation marks the end of formal schooling, and the beginning of a new adventure in our life. Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, but only if we let it be. Becoming an adult is scary as well, but it’s something all of us have to do.
To each of you graduates, I commend you for a job well done. Whether you graduated at the top of your class or at the bottom, you did it. And you have a brand new future ahead of you. Don’t waste it. Make good choices. But when you make bad ones, learn from them and turn them around into good ones.
And for those of you who just graduated as an older adult, who went back to school to further your education and gain new skills, I totally applaud you. You had a dream and you fulfilled it. Go and make the rest of that dream come true!
The adult world can be a scary place sometimes. And there are times all of us want nothing more than to be children again. But you can only do that in your imagination. You have a whole new world to conquer now, and the best time to start is right now. Don’t waste another moment.
To all you graduates…it’s time. Make every minute count. You’ve worked hard for this opportunity. It won’t always go as you want it to, and there will be bumps and potholes and sometimes even barriers and accidents along the road. Your road may change course several times, but once you find that career path that was designed just for you, you’ll know it.
A huge salute to the Class of 2017! I can’t wait to see what the next twenty…and thirty…and forty years bring for each and every one of you!