As the Class of 2013 prepares to take the next steps on their journey, moving from high school or college, I begin to step back and reminisce about the years since my last graduation. I think my younger self would be overwhelmed to know the future, but I think I’d be proud of where I am.
There are some things I’d tell myself though, and since I can’t, let me share them with you, the class of 2013.
– You are ready. Every experience in your life has built to this moment, to equip you to step forward into your future. Being ready doesn’t mean your steps will be easy, your choices will be faultless, or your dreams will come true right away. But it does mean that you have the tools and support to keep growing on your own.
– Work hard. No matter if you’re going on to college or work, you are going to have to work harder than you ever have. But the rewards will be bigger than they’ve ever been before.
– Keep learning. I don’t mean book learning (though there’s a place for that too), but by listening to those around you, soaking up the knowledge they share. Learn what not to do from some people- those lessons will be as valuable as any.
– Prepare for bumps. There will be bumps, as small as ant hills to as large as mountains. You will sometimes feel like giving up. You will sometimes feel there is no way you can get past it. But you can.
– Hold on to your real friends, forget the others. Ten or twenty years from now, some of those real friends will still be real friends. You may lose touch, you may go separate ways, but you may find your way back. Don’t dismiss them because you’ve moved on to new adventures. But those that weren’t real friends, or those that hurt you along the way? It’s okay to let them go. It’s growing to know what is real and what can be left in the past.
– Be flexible. The path to where you’ll be years from now will wind and twist, and you won’t land exactly where you thought you would. But where you land may be better than you’d ever believed. And the twists will be what you reflect on all your life.
– Go. The world is so much bigger than the slice you’ve lived. Go experience some of it. We’ll be here waiting at home to welcome you back, always being your safe place.
– Do good. There is so much darkness in the world, but there is so much more power in the good that can come from those who choose to shine it. You have that power, to show God’s love to a hurting world. To be His hands and His feet.
For the graduates in our life, we look forward to seeing you pursue your dreams and build a future. We love you.