Your Graduation Day

Little lessons that can make a world of difference.

Posted Jun 11, 2018

Oleg Dudko/Deposit Photos
Source: Oleg Dudko/Deposit Photos

It’s been 18 years since we first met. I was a young naive mother who spent a lot of time searching for the best way to parent you. Alas, after dozens of books and countless resources, I soon realized that we had to figure out this whole parent/child thing together. And I, like many parents, had to learn through trial and error.

Today, I sit with so many other parents and watch you get ready to walk across that big stage on your graduation day. I reminisce as the past childhood memories flood my mind. I remember pushing you on a swing, watching you smear icing from your first birthday cake across your face, gasping as you took off on your bike without training wheels, and waiting anxiously to see if you made it home safely by curfew. And music played a large part in making those memories.

When you were a child, I was constantly singing songs such as “You’ll Be in My Heart” by Phil Collins, “Who Let the Dogs Out” by Baha Men (even though the meaning of the song wasn’t the best, you’d laugh and laugh when your father and I would sing it to you), but the one song that I sang to you most often was “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. It is an inspirational song about inner strength, overcoming fear and having the courage to try new things. Over the past few weeks, that one song has been playing in the background of my mind.

As you get ready to walk across that stage, I find myself questioning whether or not I taught you everything I should have? Have I done my job well? Did I help prepare you for this next step? And most importantly, are you ready to dance with life? On your big day, I thought I’d share some life lessons that I’ve learned, in hopes they’ll help you live life to the fullest.

Igor Yaruta/Deposit Photos
Source: Igor Yaruta/Deposit Photos

Little lessons that can make a world of difference.

  1. You’re never lost, you’re always somewhere. My uncle said this to me one time when I was complaining about being afraid of driving to a place that I didn’t know how to get to (this was at a time before GPS systems). He looked at me and said, “you’re never lost, you’re always somewhere.” I hung onto those wise words because they apply to more than physical directions. Remember when you think you’re lost, you are not. You are somewhere and where you are may be a stepping stone to getting you to where you’re supposed to be.
  2. Most of the things you’ll worry about will never happen. It’s easy to let your mind run wild and lead you to write a conclusion that’s far from the truth. Don’t let fear become the author of your life. When you find yourself filling in the life’s blanks, remind yourself that there are many different ways a story can end. Personally, I’ve found that most of the things that I worried about and lost sleep over never happened.
  3. This too shall pass… I had a good friend tell me this once and it stuck with me. In life’s most stressful and darkest moments, I remind myself that the situation is temporary for “this too shall pass…”​
    Justyna Jeziak/Deposit Photos
    Source: Justyna Jeziak/Deposit Photos
  4. Happiness isn’t ever after, it happens in moments. One of the biggest myths in life is that it should have a fairytale ending, well it doesn’t. Happiness is found in moments both big and small. It can be found in hearing your favorite song on the radio, holding that special someone’s hand, or just walking outside and letting the warm sun hit your face. Embrace those moments and treasure them, because that’s where you’ll find true happiness.
  5. Embrace who you are. One of the hardest people to be friends with will be yourself. Perhaps it’s because you know your weaknesses and imperfections, but don’t dismiss your strengths and positive attributes. Find inner peace with who you are and embrace yourself. You are special and don’t ever forget it.
  6. Life’s a journey, not a destination. Don’t focus so much on the future that you forget to enjoy the present. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have goals, dreams, and ambitions, but they shouldn’t consume every waking moment. Life’s not a race, so you can slow down and enjoy it as it happens.
  7. Be humble and kind. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Pay things forward and help out your fellow neighbor. Don’t ignore those who need help. If you stay humble and true to your roots, you’ll know exactly what you should do.
  8. Stick with the basics. When you feel like life is thrashing you like a weathered ship in a storm, be sure to take care of the basics, they will help you survive. First, get enough sleep. Without it, you won’t be at your best. Second, give your body the good fuel it needs to run properly. In other words, eat your fruits and veggies. Last, take care of your body, it was meant to move, so exercise. Although these basics sound really simple, they are the very things that are most often neglected.
    Hongqi Zhang/Deposit Photos
    Source: Hongqi Zhang/Deposit Photos
  9. Love and be loved. You are designed to need others. You are not meant to travel life’s path alone. Find good people and do life together with them. We all need to have people with us during the peaks and valleys. Love really does make the world go around.
  10. Life’s a gift, not a given. Wake up each day with an appreciation for the gift you’ve been given, life. Life is short, and each day is marked. Make living a priority and treasure it, don’t mistake the gift as a given.
Justyna Jeziak/Deposit Photos
Source: Justyna Jeziak/Deposit Photos
Hongqi Zhang/Deposit Photos
Source: Hongqi Zhang/Deposit Photos

Back to my memory of singing “I Hope You Dance”... From an early age, I wanted the best for you and that has not changed. I want you to be secure in who you are, embrace life to the fullest and feel the warmth of love. Don’t let fear keep you from taking a chance and “when you get the choice to sit it out or dance” for crying out loud, dance, my child, dance!

Roman Striga/Deposit Photos
Source: Roman Striga/Deposit Photos

To all graduates and parents, congratulations!