I’ve accepted that gauntlet thrown down by our pastor to speak at our church’s graduation night this Friday, a night where we honor our high school grads. This year, there’s one high school grad. However, at my behest, we are also honoring our three class of 2014 university grads (of which I’m one). The university grads have been asked to speak on “what I wish I knew when I graduated from high school”.
This is my speech:
Back when I graduated from high school…
- Dinosaurs roamed the earth
- Apple was just a piece of fruit
- An “I-Pad” was something you put on your eye if it hurt
- Personal cassette tape players were all the rage
- And a cell phone was what you used only if you were arrested!
Graduation from high school, for me, was a hard place to land. I was 17. My foster parents were moving to the US. I was not. Panicked, I married the guy I was dating. I was frightened of the future, and self-preservation kicked in; I needed someone to look after me. (Our marriage ended in divorce four years later). I only share this to provide a bit of context.
Five things I wish I’d known when I graduated from High School:
- God is a god of grace, love and forgiveness – not just rules.
- A high school diploma does not a great job make.
- Career testing – at least the kind I had – is not terribly accurate or useful.
- A teacher or guidance counsellor taking me under their wing and giving, well, guidance would have been extremely helpful.
- Apple and Microsoft would achieve world domination. (Apple’s first stock offering was in Dec., 1980, just 1.5 years after I graduated. Microsoft’s followed in 1986.) Honey, we could have been rich!
[name of graduate], in the words of that learned scholar, Dr. Seuss:
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.
And, one final thought from Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
I think what Roosevelt’s saying with that quote [name of graduate], is simply: GO FOR IT. Whatever you choose to do, you’ve a soft place to land with your family always, in success and in failure. If I’d had a soft place to land when I graduated from high school, who knows what I might have accomplished?