Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear Graduate

It's graduation season in America.  This year we attended the high school graduation of our youngest American niece. Graduation brings her to a crossroads to a new beginning.  The same beginning I found myself at over twenty years ago.  I wish I had listened more closely to the words of advice that had been given to me back then.  So with that being said, I think I will pen my words of advice to her and all the other graduates, here on the vast expanse of the world wide web.

Dear Graduate, 

Welcome to the beginning of your adult life.  The decisions you make from this point forward will be the foundation for rest of your life.  Right now you have the choice to make a life full of purpose or a life full of excuses.  The choice is yours.  Here are some tips to inspire you to take control of the rest of your life. 

Naivete Served You Well - Naivete has been your silent, invisible friend that you never knew existed.  Your parents have shielded you from some of the difficulties life can offer.  It's probable that you have not worried about you rent, your next meal, your utilities and other such mundane necessities.   If you are reading this then you obviously have access to modern technology, let that remind you that you are one of the lucky ones.  True poverty exists.  The struggle for survival in some places is more heart wrenching than you can imagine.  Please acknowledge this fact.  Stop whining about your lack of the latest fashions, newest version of the iphone, or how hard you've had it.  Appreciate what you own because you earned none or very little of the things in your possession.  Think about the fact that childhood offers a certain simplicity that many spend years hoping to recapture.  

Absolve Your Past - You might believe that the decisions your parents made caused you some grief throughout your childhood.  Maybe they divorced, maybe you have an absentee parent, maybe they were overseas working to provide for you, maybe they have participated in hurtful behavior or maybe they were just too harsh.  It could also be possible that they have given you too much stuff, too much freedom and taught you too little about the real world. They are human and they are fallible. Stop blaming them and start making your own decisions for your future.  The circumstances of your upbringing do not dictate your success or failure in this world.  Your dedication and perseverance do.  So stop using their failures as your excuses.  Put in the time and effort to earn your own excuses. 

Remember Your Past Fondly - Whether your childhood was effortless or wrought with challenges, it brought you to where you are today.  It has taught you plenty of lessons and has given you some ideas of what you hope to accomplish in life.  Embrace the laughter and freedom that filled your childhood.  Use the challenges to inspire you to provide something better for your children.   Take the time to appreciate everyone who helped you get to where you are today. Those that laughed with you added color to your world, those that cried with you gave you support when you needed it, those that pushed you to do better care about where you go in life, and those that love you appreciate the beauty of this transition in your life.  Life is changing and all too quickly these opportunities are gone.  Remember the best of what was and move on to build the best for your future.

Suffering Builds Character -  If you have ever spent time with an elder who was telling an engaging story, then you understand that creatively overcoming adversity creates for an adventurous life.  Right now, you are on the verge of what could be one of the most difficult periods in your life.  You will struggle, you will suffer, you will be challenged, you will be lost and you will overcome!  These trials help you discover who you are at the very core of your being.  If you would like to become wise, then allow these experiences to hurt and let them inspire you to achieve your goals.  There are some things that just suck! Learning how to handle those things will determine how likely you are to bring your dreams to fruition. 

Design Your Own Destiny - Highly successful people don't just happen.  Opportunities do not come knocking and leaders come from all walks of life.  There are thousands of cases where underprivileged and over challenged children have grown up to become powerful and influential through dedication and hard work.  They did not complain about the opportunities they were not given.  Instead, they keep persevering; effectively, creating their own opportunities.   If you plan on hitting the lottery, hoping for a promotion, waiting for a rich relative to die, praying for a lucky break or thinking that something will come along, you will grow old, bitter and become disenchanted with life.   Please do yourself a favor and understand that your future is now your own.  Do something that brings you joy and provides for many years to come

Never Stop Setting Goals -  Set a career goal for yourself within two years of graduating from high school. Otherwise, you will become the perpetual student hoping to discover what inspires you or end up endlessly searching for ways to get by.  Even when you are actively working towards a career goal, you should set smaller goals so that you are able to become familiar with the taste of success.  You must be highly familiar with the process of how to achieve success in order to learn to be dedicated enough to keep plugging away towards a long term goal.  We all know that the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is to "Practice, Practice, Practice."  Truthfully, that's the key to any goal.  Constantly challenge yourself by adding new and innovative goals frequently.

Now is the time to put yourself first. Take the time to find out who you are, what your capable of, what inspires you and stay committed to yourself.  You have the rest of your life ahead of you, don't rush into anything.  Remember life is harder than you know.  So take your time and enjoy being young and carefree.  I am proud of you and your accomplishments. Always remember, you should never stop learning and growing.