Congratulations, you made it! Who is most surprised--your teachers, your parents, or you? I’m sure your parents are wondering how the years since your first screaming passage into this world could have flown by so quickly.
In wondering what advice I could possibly give any current grad, I have to ask: what advice would I give myself on my own graduation day? What would I tell that wide-eyed 18 year-old now, from the vantage point of having lived an additional mumble-mumble years? Were it possible, I’d narrow it down to three things:
1. Life is much shorter than you think and it is merely a rehearsal for eternity. Practice diligently. Wake up and tell yourself “just for today, I will play the role of the person I will one day wish I had been.” Tomorrow, wake up and do it again.
2. Get an education beyond high school. Even if your course of study is in a completely different arena than your eventual work, the process itself and the tenacity you’ll develop will be immeasurably useful to you on life's journey.
3. Figure out who you are before you give yourself to another person to partner with for life. Don't assume you already know. Time will reveal God-given gifts you may not yet realize you have. Once you understand what those gifts and passions are, you’ll be better equipped to marry someone whom you can complement and who will complement you. Then you will be true soul mates and together, you can progress in the same direction.
One way to figure out who you are, what drives you, and what your contribution to the world might be is by answering some questions about yourself, like:
- What one thing would I set out to accomplish if I knew I could not fail?
- What activity am I doing when I find hours have passed and it felt like mere minutes?
- What type of discussions draw me in, even when I’m tired and drained?
- When do I feel most alive? Have I ever had the experience of feeling like “YES, this is my place in this world”? If so, what was I doing at the time?
I can now answer all of those questions for myself with clarity, but I’m certain I could not have on my grad day. Any aspirations I may have had then required the cooperation of others. We need to be able to answer those questions in a way that will be true regardless of who might come and go throughout our lives or what choices others make.
Lastly, I would offer the timeless words of scripture, beside which my own words fade to insignificance: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5 & 6.