Hearts pounding, excitement at its fullest, fear gripping, tears streaming, euphoria sweeping... Where can you find such a mixed bag of emotions? Well, at a high school graduation of course! As high schools across the nation hold commencement ceremonies, many things are flying through the minds of graduates and their guests. To the graduate, the feelings of elation, sadness, anxiety, disbelief and even fear occupy their thoughts. To parents, the flashbacks of diaper changes, skinned knees, the first day of school, learning to drive and first loves swirl through their heads. While pride swells in the hearts of parents, one question lingers. "Where has the time gone?" They may think, "It seems like yesterday that I held you in my arms, and now look at you, all grown up." What happens to time? The answer is simple... life.
To the Parents,
Memories upon memories surface as you glimpse back in the past. You sit in eager anticipation waiting for his or her name to be called. You watch your child walk across the stage and in a single moment, it's over. Wow has your role changed. You've gone from a protector, to a disciplinarian, to a coach, and now you're moving to the role of confidant. This new change may be a little awkward at first as you struggle to maintain control in the relationship. But as many will tell you that have already passed through this stage, you soon have to let go.
Sure, your teen is still going to need guidance, but try to discipline them too much now and they may resent you. It's time to hop out of the passenger's seat and kindly move to the back. Trust that you've done a good job raising your teen. Oh, and bite your tongue, close your eyes, and don't ridicule when he starts to veer off the beaten path. Think of yourself as a GPS. You may tell him where to turn but if he doesn't want to take that route, he's not going to. What if he takes an off road path? Who knows, it may prove to be a good route and it may not. One thing's for certain, the "I told you so moments" are over. A new approach may be "Well, you got yourself into one heck of a mess. So, what can I do to help you get out of it?"
Trust is essential during this new phase of your relationship. Let go of the reigns and trust that you've given your teen all of the necessary skills, values and beliefs to make a difference in this world. Take a deep breath and be proud.
To the Graduates,
Congratulations class of 2011! You've finally made it to destination graduation. Looking back, did you ever think you'd get here? Your high school years have probably been a roller coaster of emotions and too many learning experiences to count. How many things did you get by with without your parents knowing? Don't be surprised if someone doesn't let the cat out of the bag at the dinner table 10 years from now. Speaking of 10 years from now, take a good look at those graduating in your class. What do you think they'll be doing in 10 years? You'll all go off in different directions some will be married, some will have their doctorates; some may even have children! Scary thought, isn't it?
What will you be doing in 10 years? Who do you want to be? Well, before I leave you with that thought I must first apologize. Generations ahead of you have done a lovely job of getting all of you into a financial mess. Take this as a "do as we say not as we do" moment. Learn to invest, save and make wise life decisions. For how you run this world will have an effect on generations to come. I trust that you and your classmates will learn from our mistakes and overcome the many obstacles that come your way.
As you go off to explore a new path, aim high and reach for the stars. Take care of each other. Give to the greater good of humanity and take care of the planet while you're at it. "Go Green!" Take time to reflect on your childhood and high school experiences. Learn from mistakes and know that you do have the power to make a positive difference in this world. You are the future!
So graduate, as you turn your tassel, a new chapter begins. Life is a unique novel that is filled with twists, turns, love, failure and success. Draw on your family and friends to help you navigate through unchartered territory. A lot of what life throws your way will be a result of your decisions. Remember, always make good choices and work hard. Place as many doors in front of you as possible, for behind these doors lie opportunities.
In closing, I leave you with the infamous poem "The Road Not Taken". Enjoy the journey!
The Road Not Taken (1916)
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.