An unsolicited graduation speech for the Class of ’08
No one’s asked me yet, but if I were to give any of the commencement speeches at Eagle County’s five graduating classes this year, it would sound something like this:
You guys are all jittery and amped-up about graduating, and chances are whatever I say here today will go in one ear and out the other. My presence here is a mere formality, part of the program, as it were, and I don’t expect my words to change your life. But I’m going to hit a number of points, and if I had one request, it would be for you to try to remember just one of them. Just one of them, and take it with you into the world.
– You’ve probably heard the saying, “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.” Remember that one. Procrastination is the bane of us humans, and the notion that we’ll do something to better ourselves “tomorrow” is to simply accept the status quo. Do that, and before you know it you’ll be 40 years old wondering why they won’t promote you to assistant manager at the local McDonald’s. Youth is fleeting, and it’s also the time when you’ve got the energy to do great stuff. Don’t let it slip away.
– Don’t be taken in by credit offers you won’t be able to handle. Visa cards are for adults with full-time jobs ” and even many of us can’t handle them. Unscrupulous banks will offer you a credit card when you’re only a freshman in college, and you’ll be tempted to take it. Don’t. Unless you’re a paragon of fiscal responsibility, these cards will bury you. Add those balances to any student loans you might incur and you’ll start your working life struggling just to pay your debts. It sucks. I know. I’ve been there.
– Another temptation is drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and chances are at least half of you will have trouble with some or all of these substances. The world is full of recovering addicts trying to figure out where the last 10, 20, 30 years went. The sooner you can figure out your tolerance for these substances and avoid or moderate them, the happier you’ll be.
– Save money, but don’t forget to live. Take that trip, spend that semester in France, travel the world, whatever. You’ll never be more comfortable being broke than when you’re young, so do the fun, cheap stuff now.
– The best friends you’ll ever have you either have now from high school or will meet soon in college or at work. Keep them. Friendships, like any relationship, have to be nurtured, and it’s easier to retain your old friends than make new ones. And that’s not to say you shouldn’t make new friends ” what kind of speech would this be if I advocated that? ” but the friends you have now cannot be replaced.
– Somewhere along the way, you’re going to find someone who really loves you. And perhaps you’ll be tempted to size this person up, find them lacking in some area and look for something better. About half the people who get married get divorced, so you need to be cautious but … when the real deal comes along ” and you’ll know it when it does ” hang onto it. It won’t be easy, it will definitely hurt at times, but the world is a much less scary place with a partner at your side.
I’m being short today because, remember, I want you to try to take one of these thoughts out of the gym today with you. You’re going on an incredible journey, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Alex Miller is responsible for the editorial oversight of the Vail Daily, Eagle Valley Enterprise and Vail Trail. He can be reached at (970) 748-2920, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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