Wednesday, June 03, 2009


The academic quarter is winding down. Yesterday was the last meeting of the term with the students who are earning credit or volunteering to do what we do. The seniors were given time to share some final thoughts as they sit on the verge of leaving the collegiate atmosphere and entering "the real world".

The vibe in the room was surprisingly bittersweet. Many of the seniors spoke of how the college years had been (and will probably have been) the best time of their lives, how they'd made lifelong friends, and how they were sad this time was coming to an end.

Maybe the gloomy sentiments being expressed had more to do with the particular students, some of whom are probably realizing they didn't take full advantage of the career-building opportunities afforded them over the last four years. Maybe it's because none of them have fulltime jobs lined up and some even seem unsure of what work to pursue.

To those students I want to say that life does not get less interesting or end once you've left the halls of academia and join the workforce. The fun may change form, but life will continue to provide it. After all, you're about to embark on an exciting--and, admittedly, potentially terrifying--time in which you have full control of writing your own story. Spending too much time looking back, particularly at your age, means you're overlooking what's happening today.

Sure, there will be struggles, whether they are landing that first job, living in or relocating to a place where friends don't surround you every minute of the day, or scraping by financially. It may well be the first time you've truly been on your own or been held responsible. That will take some adjustment, especially if everything has come easily or been handed to you until now. Glean lessons from the mistakes and hardships and dispose of them rather than carrying them around.

Don't think you must have everything figured out once the college president hands over the diploma. Here's a clue: the rest of us may appear to have firmer grasps on what lives to lead, but we haven't solved it all. At least I haven't.

Your learning isn't done and good times aren't over unless you decide that's how it will be. Be curious. Be passionate. Keep a hopeful mindset even in the midst of rough patches because it will make a world of difference.

Perhaps a new graduation tradition needs to be started to remind you to view it less as an ending and more as a transition. Your name is announced, you walk across the stage, you receive your paperwork, and then you are pointed out of the commencement ceremony's area to where friends and family await. Feel free to look back with fondness, but remember to keep moving forward.



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