Congratulations! You did it! For some of you, this was expected. You were told all of your life that one day, you would be crossing a stage to receive a diploma and move on to pursue college or some other career. Yet, for others, you are making history. You could be the first person to dawn a cap and gown to cross a stage in order to receive a special piece of paper celebrating your accomplishments.
Either way, all of you have achieved an important milestone in your life, and you should be proud. You are now in a unique position to follow your own direction. For the past 13 years (or 14, maybe 15, no judgment) you have had a teacher, parent and/or guardian waking you up. Yes, if you’re anything like me, your teachers were waking you up constantly.
Anyway, you have had other people directing your steps, and now you move into a new level of independence. You will set your own alarm. You will begin a new chapter in your life, and you hold complete control of the pen.
That’s right! Your parents wrote a large amount of your early chapters. You can check your baby books if you don’t believe me. They took the pictures. They signed you up for sports. They designed your meals. They established your routines.
Gradually, you began to shape your life, but they still held the reigns. They controlled your car insurance (they still might), they made sure you were home at a decent hour, and they were in the principals office when you needed disciplined. Your independence was not as complete as it is now.
So, what will you do? Let me give you some ideas:
First, thank the adults who supported you. Yes, you worked hard and made the grades to graduate, but you needed encouragement. You need people to push you to be better. You may have been self-motivated, but you still had people in your life you didn’t want to let down. Thank all of them. You may not think it needs to be said, but they need to know you appreciate them.
Second, think before you go nuts. Freedom can cause many people to go a bit crazy. Don’t believe me? Think about the friends who have graduated before you who didn’t know how to handle their freedom and lost control. The either failed, dropped out, lost jobs, or had some other incident that occurred that stalled their progress. Enjoy your freedom, but think before you take part in activities that could forever alter your future.
Third, stay focused. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to college, a trade, or traveling around the world with a circus, stay focused. Remember why you wanted the diploma. Always reflect on your dreams and keep them at the forefront. Don’t allow anyone to interfere with where you’re headed.
That leads us to the fourth point. Be wise about who you have with you on your journey. Don’t allow a relationship to derail your motivation. If you have a romantic connection and that individual doesn’t support you, encourage you, motivate you, etc. then, maybe you should consider letting them go. Don’t be afraid to step away from friendships if they are’t moving you forward. Having friends from high school is great, but if they are dragging you down, you need to keep your distance and push forward.
Finally, do you. Seriously, don’t be driven by money or status. Be who you are driven to be. Find your calling. Seek it out. Discover what moves you. Listen to your parents, but don’t. Follow me- if you feel led to go to India to serve lepers, follow that leading. Parents will be scared for you. They might even try to talk you out of it. Listen to their words, but God’s desire for you is greater than theirs. Follow God’s lead and what He is driving you to becoming.
You did it! Welcome to the new chapter. The blank pages are before you. Don’t smear the ink with poor decisions. Don’t get to a point where you wish you could tear pages out. Live out your purpose, follow your dream, trust God’s lead, and be you.
Congratulations graduate. It’s your time to pursue great things and create change for the glory of God. May you discover your purpose and live in it for God’s glory.
Peace and blessings to you and your journey!