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Advice to New Graduates – 2013

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Cue The Pomp and Circumstance!

It’s graduation time all across the country.
You seniors are going to move your tassels
and be granted the honors due to you after
long years of projects, papers, and studies.
You will cross a threshold when you receive
that diploma, and never be the same again.

You Can’t Be Un-Graduated

You pass through a turnstile that does not
turn the other way and allow you to go back.
You join an elite group of threshold-crossers.
You can get divorced, but you cannot be
“never married” once you are married.
You can lose your children, but you will
always be a mother or a father (at least
in name) once you have had a child.
And you cannot be un-graduated.
You have been alum-inated!

Crossing Thresholds Is Stressful

It’s no wonder that graduation can be
one of the most stressful times in a person’s
life, even as it is full of happiness, relief, and
feelings of accomplishment and hopefulness.
It is the perfect example of what psychologists
call “eustress,” something that is positive but
which still has the capacity to cause stress.
Significant change does that to most people.
And crossing a threshold is something to
do very carefully, with some awareness,
some consideration, even some hesitation.
Ever see FBI or DEA agents on TV enter
a darkened house? Or Dorothy when she
begins on the yellow brick road?  Yeah.

What’s Going to Happen Next?

Graduating can feel like entering some next
phase of life that one is supposed to have been
prepared for, except that one can never be
completely prepared for what life will throw at you,
so you are always woefully unprepared in a sense.
And at some level, you know it.
Your cap and gown and diploma
do not guarantee you anything.
They do not guarantee you success.
They do not guarantee you happiness.
They do not even guarantee you a job.
They summarize your past.
They do not predict your future.

A New Identity

If anything, there are now a different set of
expectations that you and others now have of you
that didn’t exist before you were a graduate.
You may feel like you should be able to do things
or make things happen now that you couldn’t before.
That may or may not be true.
Others may feel like you should be able to do things
or make things happen now that you didn’t before.
That may or may not be true.
You will get to test out what it means to have graduated
and see what that means to the rest of the world.
With so much unknown following graduation, is
there anything we know about what comes next
that could help you make this transition?

Advice To New Graduates…

I just want to say one word to you…
but it isn’t going to be “Plastics.”
It’s “Go!”
Take your degree and whatever youthful energy
you have left and hit the ground running.
It is time.
You are as ready as you should be.
Believe that if you were able to jump all those hoops
to get that degree, you are certainly up for any challenge
they can put before you.
Don’t doubt your ability to learn whatever you need to learn.
That is, after all, what your degree represents.
Give 100% to what you have control over and
let the rest take care of itself.
It will.
Be willing to humbly learn from those who are
doing the work in your chosen field so that you can
someday do it better, smarter, and more creatively.
Understand that your real education is just about
to begin.
Show yourself and others that there is still
more to learn (there is still more to learn?).
What are you still doing here?  Go!
And by the way, congratulations!

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