Just in Time for Graduation

Graduating forty years ago qualifies me for some nifty senior discounts. But it also comes with some hard-earned lessons. 

Here’s some advice I wish I could have given my 18-year-old graduating self:

You were successful in school, but you can’t be afraid to fail. Lessons from failure teach things books never will. 

The classroom isn’t the only place to learn. Life teaches unforgettable lessons.

But there is a distinction between unforgettable lessons and regrettable ones. Often the regrettable lessons involve poor choices. (Like your choice to drink alcohol on that school trip).

You discovered that you can make the choices, but the consequences are yours too. (Like losing a scholarship because of the alcohol mishap. While it hurts now, this lesson will help you).

Ask questions—it helps avoid costly mistakes. (Like before using the expensive equipment at the research laboratory where you’ll soon be working).

You’re lucky that you graduated in 1976. Today’s students are bombarded with constant comparisons via Facebook and Instagram—the purveyors of social media envy. You couldn’t have handled it. See, you were born in the right era.

You are also fortunate that no one had cell phone cameras. All the stuff you and your friends did are just memories. Now everything is instantly posted and lasts FOREVER.

Use that box of fancy embossed Thank You cards. Thank everyone for their gifts and just as important, thank the teachers who made your graduation possible. 

Make writing thank you notes a lifelong habit.

You also need to learn the art of apology—especially for those times when you know you’re right but your relationships matter more. The people in your life will give you plenty of practice.

Finally, about money: pay your bills (on time) and save for emergencies. You’ll work hard to get money, but how you spend it causes the most arguments with those you love.

Which leads me to probably the most important thing I learned:

When given the choice to make more money and be stressed or be happier with less, I suggest choosing being happier with less. But maybe that’s just me (or actually you, in about 15 years).

For post graduates, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Then you will have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true. Proverbs 23:18

The future lies before youLike a field of driven snow,Be careful how you tread it,For every step will show.
~Author Unknown

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