This week is a momentous period at our house, this is graduation week. I know this has been eighteen years in the making but it sure seems to have slipped up on me without any warning. I have told new parents to enjoy each moment because, at some point, you will blink and be staring at the realization that soon you will be empty nesters. It seems impossible to me that Jennifer and I have navigated the first eighteen years with Ike and soon will be sending him off to college as an adult.
Is he ready for college, I am pretty sure he would tell you he is. Are we ready to send him off into the world? Yes, and some days even more than ready, but it is the hardest transition yet. As much as you want them to go out and experience life, as a parent, you still want to protect them from the mistakes, experiences and disappointments that come with life. I have tried to pass some of the wisdom I have gleaned since high school to Ike, but I realize he is probably five to ten years away from appreciating it.
First, enjoy college; it will be some of the best years of your life. You are an adult with all of the privileges and responsibilities it brings. But don’t enjoy it too much. Treat college as a job, be dedicated to your studies and go the extra mile. It may seem like a lot of work now but it will pay off big later on. Any head start you generate now will carry through for the rest of your life. Don’t forget to enjoy the social life, but don’t lose sight of why you are in college. Here is the real secret to college. It is more about the process than about what you learn.
Work toward a career that is a passion rather than an occupation. Enjoying what you do is more important than money. Another secret in life is that if you are passionate about what you are doing, more than likely, you are pretty good at it and success will come. Which brings up another point, patience is a learned skill and not something most people are born with. Stick to what you believe, work toward a goal and don’t give up because success is not happening fast enough.
Learn to sacrifice. I truly believe a lot of my mistakes in life and a lot of the mistakes my generation are making are because we expect everything instantly and we do not want to wait, sacrifice and earn success. The idea of instant gratification is a lot of what is wrong with society today. Something that is earned through dedication and sacrifice is much better than something bought with credit before it is earned (I am not just talking about money and stuff either).
Treat those around you with respect, dignity, kindness and humility, even if you don’t think they deserve it. The old adage of treat others like you would like them to treat you is one of the best rules to live by. Go the extra mile even if that means the respect and kindness are not returned. Remember that life is a team effort and appreciate those around you. Life is really about the relationships you forge with the people around you.
Most importantly, enjoy life; don’t be in a rush to see what is next. Each segment of time, each chapter of life is the best. Don’t spend all of your life looking back at the past chapter and dwell on what you wish you would have done or what changes you would make. It is over, learn from your mistakes, cherish the memories and live life right now. Also don’t spend all of your time waiting and wishing for what will come next. Plan and prepare to be successful but live the life that is right now. Don’t let opportunities pass by and take time to truly enjoy the people and experiences. This will be the only chance you get at it, live life.
OK, I will quit for now before I get too clichéd or sappy. I know nothing we have ever done in life will prepare us and especially Ike for the upcoming week. I am looking forward to it, all be it with a little apprehension. In the end, we will go through this transition, ready or not so we might as well enjoy the ride. I am proud of the young adult Ike has become, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. However, I will heed my own advice and enjoy this graduation week to the fullest.