To the graduates of 2011, as you enter the next stage of your life, the future looks grim. Our credit cards are maxed out. Unemployment is hovering near 9%. Greed still seems to rule. My advice...disregard the bad advice.
Learn to be independent...bad advice. Sorry to tell you, but each one of us is connected. Our growth, our well-being, our success is dependent on working well, playing well, interacting well with others. Our success is shared. Learn to become interdependent. Learn to be a contributor to communities. Show others you can be trusted. Be responsible. Learn it is not all about you.
Be successful so you can be fulfilled...bad advice. Make sure your definition of success is worthy and meaningful. Make sure your definition of success is not measured in acquiring but in making a difference in other people’s lives. Remember, when you die, you will not be remembered for what you acquired, the positions you held or the awards on your wall but in the difference you made in the lives of others.
Pursue happiness...bad advice. I suggest you pursue serving others. Pursue solving problems. Pursue making the world a better place for everyone. Pursue a relationship with God. The pursuit will be hard. The pursuit will be frustrating. The pursuit will leave you bloody, scarred and changed. The pursuit will give you happiness.
There are unlimited possibilities...bad advice. This is synonymous with "you can be anything you want to be." The possibilities are out there, but you need to create them, work for them, challenge them and yourself. The possibilities will not come to you. You need to go them. This requires work. It may be a struggle.
Do what you like. Go live your passion...bad advice. My father continuously reminded me, “It’s not doing what you like, it’s liking what you do.” In other words, you have to find your purpose. Your purpose may not be clear. It’s not inside you, it’s outside you. Perhaps your purpose will be found with your grandmother in a retirement home. You discover that she and her companions are not well-cared for. You find purpose in changing that. You are paying a traffic fine and while you sit in the courtroom you realize there are certain injustices. You feel called to make a difference. It’s trash day. You see a lot of waste. You are disgusted by the lack of recycling. You are called to take action. Open your eyes. Ask questions. Dabble. It may come to you early in life. It may not come until late in life. It may change at midlife. Your purpose is a big lump of clay to be worked on.
We are here for you...bad advice. Unfortunately, today’s youth are supervised, coached, looked-over, watched, guided, protected way too much. Parents step in to battle problems and issues, to serve and protect. A perceived unfair teacher gives a child a grade lower than expected, mommy intervenes. A coach disciplines a player, a parent throws a fit. A child is short on money and has overspent her allowance, daddy gives her more. We are enabling a society of dependents. Because life is not fair, it is the greatest teacher to be experienced. To get in the way of life is to create bulging tummies, mushy minds, small hearts, soft hands, fragile egos and spoiled brats. Learn not to be afraid to get your hands dirty and calloused. View blisters as badges of courage. See black-eyes as teachable moments. Learn that shame is a part of everyone’s life. Deal with your shame in a healthy manner.
As you go forth, my advice to you, apply sun screen. Grab a towel for the sweat. Bring an empty composition book and pen to take notes, write down lessons learned and journal your frustrations. Refer to this. Wear comfortable, close-toed shoes. Avoid junk food except for special occasions. Drink more water and less soda. Go to bed early, greet the sunrise. Get off the sofa and away from the “screen.” Turn off your phone, take in the silence daily. Give more. Take less. Learn to "be" rather than to "do."