To the graduates

graduationGraduation time is here.  Whether you or your child (friend/relative/whatever) is graduating from high school or college, I want to say congratulations.  This is an awesome accomplishment.  Your hard work has brought you to this point and you deserve the praise and accolades.

But, guess what…it doesn’t stop here.  Your next stop after this is a big one, no matter what path you choose.  You may be leaving high school on your way to college in the fall, or in to the workforce.  You may have obtained a degree at the university and you are considering another or what you are going to do with that fancy, expensive piece of parchment.  I could spout clichéd lines from commencement speeches past about spreading your wings, soaring to new heights or yada yada yada.  But, you will hear enough of that at your graduation.

I want to offer some adv ice for navigating the rocky, crazy planet you are set upon.  First, GET A JOB!  IT doesn’t have to be the best job you ever had.  It just has to earn an honest wage.  Guess what, flipping burgers is honest work.  So is digging ditches or any other hard, less than glamorous jobs you can think of.  The point here is responsibility.  Take some.  Take a lot.  There is plenty to go around.  You will be glad you did.  Your parents will be proud of you.

Which brings me to point number two…tell your parents (or whoever has supported you financially, emotionally and lovingly all these years) thank you.  Thank them for standing by you.  Thank them  for taking care of you.  Thank them for loving you.  And, thank them for kicking your backside when you needed it.  Continue to respect them.  Showing the proper respect to the parental types in your life will help you with your future job/career/life of lottery winning luxury.  Showing respect for others doesn’t stop with your parents.  Respect your peers.  Respect your superiors.  Respect your employees if you get to the top.  Respect opens more doors than it closes.

Also, don’t forget to respect yourself, too.  This is very important.  If you neglect to treat yourself with kindness and respect, you set yourself up for others to take advantage of you.  No one deserves that.  You are not a doormat.  If that ever happens, stand up straight, dust yourself off and refuse to let it happen again.

Always remember that you are not entitled to anything in this world.  Things won’t always be easy.  Hard work really does build character.  Enduring the occasional (and I truly hope it is only occasional) hardship will serve to make you stronger.  I speak from WAY TOO much experience on this.

Every day spread kindness.  If you can afford nothing more, a smile is an amazing gift that is free to give.  Kindness begets kindness.  It is contagious.  Start an epidemic.

Most of all, be yourself.  The best you there is.  I am proud of you.  Now get out there and celebrate (responsibly!!!)

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