This column first appeared in the All Month Edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm
It’s graduation season and the internet is chalk full of commencement speeches by the famous and infamous; some marvellous, some just meh.
The irony of how we cap off our academic achievements is not lost on me. We finish the way we start. By standing in front of a class of sitting students to tell them how life really is. And we would know, right, because we are the grown-ups after all.
Or do we? Our reality is not their reality. We forget that. And when we forget that, we miss important lessons such as student debt, higher youth unemployment, housing affordability, twitter, instagram and snapchat to name but a few. We take our lives for granted. Our graduates can’t yet afford that luxury.
I think high school commencement speeches should be delivered by those who graduated last year, or those who just graduated from post secondary or those who just got their big job or signed their first mortgage. Those are the lessons from which our grads could really benefit; solid first-hand peer experience.
There are things I didn’t know that I’d need to know when I left high school. But within a year of the cap and gown ceremony, I appreciated the opportunity to learn them. There were also delightful benefits, the sum of which nobody had ever told me about. That was a gift too.
I’ve thought of a few lessons my twenty something self would have given my eighteen year old self. Simple stuff really but there is beauty and power in simplicity That’s the trouble with being a grown up it’s unnecessarily complicated.
Here, for your consideration is a list of 15 simple things for the Class of 2015.
1) You’re going to meet some very interesting people. They will think that you are interesting too. That’s how they roll.
2) Have a bit of cash on hand, just in case. A cab ride can save you from a mess of trouble.
3) Follow your gut. it won’t lie to you. If you think it’s creepy, it is. Go with that.
4) Don’t drive like a show off. It’s the single most dangerous way to impress nobody at all.
5) Show up early. That’s when all the fun stuff happens.
6) Keep all the important papers in the same place. There’s lots of paperwork to deal with.
7) Hanging out with friends, listening to music, laughing and getting some exercise won’t cost you money or your good judgement. Other choices might. You always have a choice.
8) Staying up all night and eating crap food isn’t nearly as much fun as you might think.
9) That boring stuff that parents do – laundry, grocery, paying bills – it’s kinda awesome when it’s yours to do on your own.
10) Your parents will miss you. You might miss them too. Keep in touch. They were your age once upon a time. They get it.
11) If you ask people for help, they almost always say yes. So go ahead and ask.
12) Fear, loneliness, heartbreak and anxiety are universal emotions. See above.
13) Try new things – travel, food, movies, sports, arts, hobbies – it’s a big world and it’s pretty amazing.
14) Curiosity is a good friend. Spend time with it.
15) The place you left to find your way will always have a place for you. There really is no place like home.
Go. Be. Happy. And congratulations on your graduation. It’s only the beginning. The world belongs to you now and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do, how far you will go and how proud you will make us.