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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Congratulations to the Class of 2011!!

Graduation from high school will be celebrated in May and many families will experience the rush of emotions that accompany this special time. In Georgia alone, thousands of seniors will be leaving high school to begin their next adventure. Some will start college and will experience life away from home for the first time, while others will begin full-time employment and all the responsibilities that come with adult independence. This is a joyous, emotional, and tense time for both the students and their families.

At this milestone it is important for graduates to express gratitude to the special people who have shaped their life. Parents and family members are crucial with their love and support, but the list of important influences most assuredly goes beyond family. Every high school graduate owes some level of thanks to special friends, teachers, coaches, and religious leaders who provided patience, encouragement, empathy and inspiration. Graduates are advised to express their appreciation to these special people.

It is predictable for new graduates to feel anxiety. There can be fears about success in the next phase of life. Many graduates will be leaving the familiarity of home, family and friends and moving from a secure sense of who you are and what you can do into unknown worlds. The adult work life and college life is unlike high school.

Opening up to friends and family about fears can help calm and reassure. Trust that your friends are experiencing similar concerns and bottling up fears will only intensify the power of the anxiety. Life transitions come with apprehensions and doubts. Leaving a familiar high school where you are known and accepted to “unknown territories” is not an easy task. It is important and helpful to express your feelings.

Life after high school is different. For many years students are encouraged to remain compliant and docile and high school students have very little voice in decisions about their activities. As graduates you must take control of life. College students make decisions about attending class, how much sleep is needed, and when and what to eat. College students decide for themselves want they want to learn and when they want to learn it. While all of these decisions carry consequences, the responsibility is with each individual not with a parent, a teacher, or an administrative official. The freedom can be either a blessing or a curse – depending on whether you accept it with maturity and grace …or abuse it.

Additionally it is important to develop a strategy for yourself on how you want to manage your future. Develop clarity on your personal values so you have clear boundaries to help face the many temptations that will come with the increase in freedom and responsibility.

I discovered a graduation address by Paul Graham who offered the following advice; “There’s no switch inside of you that magically flips when you turn a certain age or graduate from some institution. You start being an adult when you decide to take responsibility for your life. You can do that at any age.” Mr. Graham also very wisely encouraged graduates not to feel a sense of panic if they have uncertainties about what to do with the rest of their life. He advised not to push to be in a rush to definitively choose a life work but to focus on the discovery what is important and enjoyable. “You have to work on stuff you like if you want to be good at what you do.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2011 –

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