Graduate advice

Things are so different now than when I graduated from high school. It was a different time and things seemed more settled. Dangers were there, I’m sure, but didn’t seem as prevalent or perhaps we weren’t so aware of it back then.
Life, it seemed was simpler. Today’s graduates face career challenges which were never even thought about 20 years ago. Technology has taken over our lives and is constantly changing. It’s quite an effort just to keep up with these days.
Even with everything in the world today, graduates have just as many opportunities. It’s  more important in today’s world to get that degree whether from a university or a technical college. I do realize that either of these paths is not for everyone though. Some graduates just want to enter the job market and that’s fine for them.
Depending on which economic forecast you believe, this is a good time to enter the job market.
We hear all the time about young people not wanting to work but hopefully that’s not the case with the 2017 graduates.
There are some skills that are not taught but come naturally to some people. I believe they call these soft skills. Skills like a willingness to work, to be dedicated enough to show up when you are supposed to work, problem solving and working as a team. These skills are sometimes more important than knowing about a specific job.
While many of us stayed in the same field or at the same job for our whole lives, I don’t think that will be the case for today’s graduates. They are trying to find their way and will probably experience a variety of different fields before they settle on one. A good thing is many employers offer ‘on the job’ training to employees who demonstrate a willingness to actually show up on time and want to learn. Employees with this attitude will find it is a hedge in an uncertain economy.
High school, or college graduation for that matter, is not the end of learning. You will be learning one thing or another your whole life. It’s a process and you shouldn’t want to stop learning. To stop learning is to stagnate, which is something we definitely don’t want to do in our lives.
There is very little I remember about my own high school graduation day, or my college graduation either. I had decided to graduate early and had to take two English courses in one year to do so and therefore there were 20 of us who graduated early on the football field. They did do a ceremony for us, which was great. I don’t remember what was said, but I was tops in the class graduating early.
Those graduating tonight or in the next week or so won’t remember a few years from now either. It’s okay that you don’t remember what was said but there are some things you need to remember. I wish someone had told me some of these when I graduated. I’ll share them with you now.
1. While as a graduate we tend to think we know it all and have the world in our hands, we don’t. Don’t for a minute think that God and faith can wait for another day. No one is invincible and we aren’t promised tomorrow. Life often takes dramatic shifts and when you have God in those times, it’s easier to maneuver. Work on that relationship with God now because you don’t know what the future holds.
2. It’s important to build a life that is meaningful. Our lives are the result of our actions. Make wise choices. The world doesn’t owe you anything and you shouldn’t expect anything to be handed to you. You have to work to build the life you want which requires action and effort. Pray about it. Figure it out and go after what you want.
3. Life is happier when we have healthy relationships. Bad relationships not only sap your energy but drain you emotionally and can stall your progress toward a meaningful life. Assess your relationships regularly and seek out emotionally healthy people. Guard good relationships and get rid of the bad ones as soon as possible.
4. Take responsibility for your life and your actions. We can’t control everything and sometimes things happen which are not our fault, but you do control how you react to each situation. Don’t blame someone else, even though it is the easy way out. Own who you are, what shapes you and determine how to move forward from setbacks.
5. Addiction and debt hamper your life. Keep a check on your debt. You may have to have some student debt but be reasonable with going into debt. Addictions can be overcome, however, it’s better to avoid them all together. If you know someone with an addiction, you probably already know what I mean. Addiction can destroy your life and spills over into the lives of others. It’s not always drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it’s shopping or something else. Moderation in everything.
6. Take care of yourself and your health and make it a habit to do so. It’s important to have good habits and to get in the habit of eating right and exercising. Health is easier to maintain on a regular basis than to let it get away from you so don’t let it go.
7. Always look for the good in people and express your gratitude. We tend to find what we look for so look for the good. Encourage others.
None of this prevents the negative or guarantees everything will be alright, but it’s a good head start on going in the right direction. Congratulations graduates.©2017

VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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About vsimmons54

Veteran journalist of 40 years. Editor, Motivational Speaker, Ordained Minister, CEO of A Light in the Darkness Ministries, Lensclusive Photography, Babbling Brook Consulting and Design, event planner and author. I love to write and speak and I love Jesus. Recently co-authored Vanished Towns Revisited.
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