I stood in front of a class full of students and asked, “What are your plans?” Twenty-five pairs of eyes stared blankly back at me. Finally, one student, a young lady about 17 years old with thick, smudged black eyeliner, announced, “Well, I was gonna go to the mall with Becca, but my mom says I gotta go straight home and babysit my little brother.” Another student seated just behind her, presumably Becca by the way she nodded her head emphatically, chimed in with an enthusiastic, “yeah, it’s not fair.”
Thanking eyeliner girl for her input, I added that I wasn’t really talking about today’s plans, but rather their plans following high school graduation, just a few short weeks away.
Graduation from high school is a very exciting time. You’ll finally be on your own, living your own life and making your own decisions. You can hardly wait. But soon enough comes the discovery that suddenly you can’t just think about what’s going to happen later this afternoon, now you have to consider the future, your future, and realize with every choice there will be a consequence. To prepare you for this circumstance I have created a list of tips for this year’s graduating class.
1) Learn now that life isn’t always fair. A fair is a place with popcorn, cotton candy, and carnival rides. Realize now that there will always be those who have more money and own more things. Accept that. Get over it. Fair is a state of mind and largely influenced by the choices we make and the attitudes we assume and ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING.
2) Say thank you and mean it, for big things, for little things. The power of gratitude can work miracles.
3) As stated above, every choice has a consequence. Some choices have immediate results and some we only come to regret (or applaud) later. Learn to accept responsibility for every decision you make.
4) Set realistic and timely goals. Sure it’s great you plan on being a doctor, but there are many, many steps to climb to reach that goal. Dream big but start small. To be a doctor you first have to get through college (and that mind boggling calculus class), then medical school. Acknowledge that meeting your goal is going to take a lot of hard work. Be willing to put forth the effort to attain your goals.
5) Ask questions. In class and out of class. From professors, parents, classmates, friends. The most foolish people in the world are those who stop asking questions because they think they know all the answers.
6) Be careful with whom you associate. You know that old saying, “You are the company you keep.” It’s true. Hang around with people that have no drive or ambition and pretty soon you won’t either.
7) Realize that everyone has a gift and a talent. Everyone!
8) You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them!
9) Live joyfully!
Class of 2014, go forth and realize that your possibilities are endless. Conquer the world!