I attended a college graduation the other evening in support of a number of friends who were participating in the ceremony. As I watched the graduating class receive their degrees, talked to them afterward, and awaited the incoming mass picture dump on social media, I was reminded of my own graduation not too long ago. I remember the thrill it was for me, the excitement in the air, the nervousness that your name may be pronounced wrong, or possibly tripping while walking to, on, or off the stage. But in the end, it was worth it and an evening I will remember. I know that the other night was a great accomplishment for each of the students, no matter who they are, how old they are, or what they have gone through or currently facing.
However, if I may, I would like to make one more speech to the graduates, from high school to two-year college degree and beyond. It is not really as much of a speech as it is a list of things, in no particular order, that I want to tell you, things I think you should know. Maybe they are simply words of wisdom, common-sense, or practical application, I do not know for sure, but maybe they will be of value to you as you continue on this journey called life.
- Always do what is right and good. When you do the right thing, you build a reputation of upholding the truth and having integrity. These are desired character traits people look for.
- Treat others with respect and honor. Being kind is not always easy but is worth it. When you show kindness to others in your actions and words, you will find people who genuinely take an interest in you and want to be a real friend. When you show kindness, mercy, and grace and uphold the truth, you will go far in this world and people will surround you to help you reach it.
- Do not trample on others along your way. If you follow the first two points this really should not be a problem, but it bears stating. Do not burn bridges if you do not have to. Do not cheat others of positions and accolades they deserve. Remain a person who is honest in their dealings. Lend a helping hand, even if it costs you a sacrifice. Reward those who are worthy of praise.
- Be available to help. I once saw a quote on social media that read along the lines of “Some people fit you into their time, but others make time for you.” Do not get so caught up in your schedule and plans that you cannot spend time to help others. On numerous occasions have I taken the time to assist others, and after each opportunity I walked away refreshed and encouraged that the person now has one less thing to worry about. Yes, it may have cost me lunch time and I had to go to class really hungry, or maybe it meant I stayed at that location longer than I intended, but it was worth the sacrifice.
- "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." This principle, something people often called "karma," simply means that your actions have reactions, just like Newton’s third law of motion. If you do good, then blessings will come. If you do wrong, be sure that consequences will follow. As the Bible says in Luke 6:37–38:
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (NKJV)
- Slow down and enjoy life. Do not get in such a rush to finish college, start your career, get married, have children, or any of that stuff. If they are to happen, they will happen. For now, enjoy your life and count it all a privilege. Even the hardships you face are blessings because there are others richer and poorer than you who never have to face them because they have their own set of problems. Your life is unique because you are unique. Live your life to the fullest. Laugh, cry, have fun, and throw yourself a very occasional pity party. You only graduate from high school once, your first kiss can never have a do-over, those words cannot be taken back. Do not just survive, but rather thrive.
- Make mistakes, then learn from them. The fact is you will make mistakes in life. It is inevitable. Therefore, make those mistakes and learn from them. Do your best to not make mistakes, but when you do, look at what happened, determine your error, and learn from it. Success does not make us a better person, but rather, faults.
- Do not chase after relationships. Guys, do not chase after every pretty girl you see. Ladies, do not run towards the next good looking dude who smiles at you. Relationships should be serious, not flipped and meaningless. That right man, not boy, will come along at just the right time. The woman of your dreams, the one you can care for and love wholeheartedly, will show up. Do not rush nor worry. If they are to be in your life, they will surely show up.
- The past is the past, the present is now, and future has not yet come. While your experiences and mistakes of the past have an effect on you, they do not define you in the the current or what is yet to occur. What happened in the past cannot be changed, but you can use it to build a better future.
- Have faith. You may disagree with me here and that is perfectly OK. I do not force anybody to do anything. After all, this is a post about what I personally think. So I personally think that having faith in a higher power than humans, a divine being, is something great. The assurance that when all seems to be breaking down and your world is collapsing, Someone greater is there for you to call upon, Someone who will give you peace and help you through the storm. Faith, to me, is more valuable than getting an 100% on every bit of college work I do.
These 10 items are things, words of wisdom and knowledge, that will hopefully stick with you as you move on and up in life. Life is a rollarcoaster, and maybe, just maybe, what I have typed here will help smooth out the ups-and-downs you will face.