Open Letter to Grads

Graduating from high school is a major accomplishment. In these days of endless testing, educational changes, and a poor economy, it’s hard to students to focus on education.  If I had my way, and I could speak to every graduating class of high school students around the world, here’s what I would say.

1.)  Keep your eyes on the prize.  Life is a roller coaster. There will be ups, there will be downs; there will be dips, twist, turns, thrills and moments of panic and distress. The road you travel will not necessarily lead you directly to your destination. There may be detours, blocked lanes, accidents and construction to deal with.  With that being said, never get distracted from your true purpose.  Continue on your quest to reach your goals.  Don’t look left, right, back, down or even forward.  Keep your eyes to the sky.  Walk by faith and let the grace of God take you where you’re flesh and blood may be too afraid to go. 

2.)  Don’t play the hater game. Most people will admit that they have haters; those people who do not want them to succeed and try the hardest impart words of discouragement in order to annihilate their hopes, goals and dreams.  Never worry about the opinions, pessimism, or mis-guidance of others. Worrying about your haters and what they have to say is the equivalent of wearing white shoes to a child’s birthday party and worrying about how many times they will get stepped on. It just doesn’t make any sense.  Haters are just admirers who don’t know how to show it. They’re acknowledging the fact that you’re doing something right, they just may not be in a place in their life where they can celebrate the success of another. Never succeed to prove them wrong, succeed in order to prove yourself right.

3.)  Always trust your gut. God has provided us with a tool that will never steer us astray.  It is the spirit that Jesus left when he ascended into heaven.  Some call it the Holy Spirit or in general terms, intuition.  It sets off an alarm inside of us when things are inherently wrong and makes us questions situations, people and actions that may cause us harm. Never stray from it.  Never ignore those butterflies in your stomach, the thought that gives you pause, or the annoying voice in your head that is screaming, "No!"  You will never regret trusting your gut. 

4.)  Never stop learning.  When you stop learning, feeding your intellectual appetite or increasing your wealth of knowledge is when you may as well head to Bradenton Funeral Home and ask Dr. Lavelle Bing to open the casket so that you can climb in. There is so much knowledge to be had in this world and, even if the information seems the least bit appealing and extremely irrelevant, always know that there may come a time when you wish you would’ve learned that bit of trivial information.  Learning is essential to life and the pathway to success and achievement.  No matter how corny the saying, knowledge is power. 

5.)  Learn the power of NO. You will encounter many moments when you are pressured to do things by fellow college students; attend a party when you have an early class in the morning, go away for the weekend when you don’t have any money, or hang out when you really should be working on your research paper.  It’s okay to say no.  No should be a major part of your vocabulary as a college student, away from home and trying to prove that you can make it on your own.  Those credit card solicitors will have their clipboards ready and waiting for you to sign your financial freedom away for $500; just say no.  That slick senior will be ready to ask you to leave your friends at the club and head to a private place with him; just say no.  That overzealous football fan will try to persuade you to have a little fun without protection; just say no.  It’s okay and, in the end, you would rather be ridiculed for making the right choice and saying no or looking back and regretting your actions because now your stuck with bad credit and a bill, a horrific memory of sexual encounter you never intended or the child support payments that cause you to quit school.  Use no, and use it often.

6.)  Discover who you are.  As children and teens inside of our parent’s homes, we have to abide by their rules and often we are who they would like for us to be.  College is a time of discovery and revelation.  It is when we are able to become adults and truly learn our likes, dislikes, pet peeves, and toxic behaviors.  It is our moment of truth.  Where we are no longer under the watchful eye of the family, the neighborhood, or the community but a bird, flying free and exploring the world.  You will make mistakes; you will have regrets, but never ever feel like there is no hope in life.  Your parents and family are there to help you and God has the ability to make every stumbling block move you in the right direction.

Go, change the world and make a difference.  As I said before, don’t live your life worrying about who is going to have something to say. Keep prayer in the forefront of your life and leave a legacy.