Today is National Graduation Tassel Day. It comes as no real surprise that at some point in the month of May we would have a least one day dedicated to graduations. May is graduation month for most if not all high schools and colleges. We honor our graduates and this year we get to see our graduates “walk” as they receive their diploma, and we get to celebrate their accomplishments. A big change from last year.
For our graduates, I would like to offer the following advice. Please feel free to take it or leave it but these are things I wish I had known as I was graduating:
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. They teach us what doesn’t work so when we try again, we know from our mistakes what not to do. Mistakes teach us to take a different path. And the thing is, you will make mistakes so don’t be afraid of them or let them keep you from trying again. Mistakes even failures are not the enemy. Being afraid to try again…that is the problem. When you make your mistakes, always make sure you learn something from them and then move forward. Bear in mind what Walt Disney said: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” So, graduates, don’t be afraid to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and keep trying.
Keep your curiosity. We live is an amazing world filled with wonderful sights, sounds, tastes, smells, people…that there is no way you could ever experience everything this world God created has to offer. Be excited about learning and seeing and tasting new things. Don’t become so jaded by everything that you lose your excitement about living. As Albert Einstein said: The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Keep your curiosity.
Never stop learning. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean you have stopped learning. We can always learn new things. We learn from life experiences. We learn from people both younger and older than we are in any given moment. When we are curious about something, take a class, read a book about the subject. Never become so complacent that you think you don’t need to learn. I like what Steve Jobs said about learning: “Learn continually – there’s always “one more thing” to learn!” Yes, there is always one more thing to learn so, never stop learning.
Don’t’ strive for perfection. This one may seem like I am telling you mediocre is perfectly fine. But that is not what I am saying. We should always try to do the best possible job we can. I was taught that any job is a job worth doing well and since I was raised on a farm that included shoveling manure out of the barn to spread on the fields for fertilizer. Don’t be afraid of hard work! But don’t let perfection keep you from completing your job. Perfection can get in the way. You can’t start if everything has to be perfect first. I assure you nothing will ever be perfect first so do the best job you can and begin. I love Brene Brown and if you haven’t read any of her books, I encourage you to do so…any of them or all of them as they are all worthwhile. Brene said this about perfection: “Perfection is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” Perfection holds us back and keeps us from doing the very thing we say we want to do. Don’t strive for perfection.
Finally, take care of yourself. Take care of your body. It is the only one you get. So, follow your doctor’s advice. Get your check-ups regularly. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise…I can’t stress this one enough. Make sure you take your vacations. Go to church…your spiritual side will thank you. Get counseling when you are struggling with something. And remember: life is about more than work. Here is the thing: if we want to enjoy life, we need to be healthy: physically, mentally, spiritually. Remember we are a whole being and we need to take care of our whole self.
So, to all the graduates: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24 – 26) or as Spock would say: “Live long and prosper.”