In some ways, this is a very overdue post.
On the other hand, I have years to go to give it more thought.
If you are the mom of a high school Senior this year – or know one – you may want to give this some thought, too.
My oldest daughter (26) spoke at a local graduation ceremony a few months ago; she’d been asked to give the Commencement speech. While I was and am, of course, immensely proud, these are the words I’d wished I’d told her “back in the day”. Back when she was the one waiting to move that tassel to the other side.
And these are the same words I have stored up for her younger sister (12) as she prepares to don her own cap and gown in a few short years…
There are many things we’ve taught you over the years, and other things you may have caught. In a short time, a blink of an eye, really, you’ll find yourself walking across a stage, wearing a funny-looking gown and awkward cap, preparing to receive a piece of paper that says “You’re free to go!”
It’s a giddy feeling: that sense of accomplishment, that feeling that the world is your oyster, society’s words telling you “You can be anything! You can do anything!” ringing in your ears.
But at the risk of being a “Debbie-downer”, let me share with you 4 things that we don’t want you to be or do.
Don’t look out for yourself. By that I mean don’t decide that you have to look out for #1 at the expense of those around you. Yes, Virginia, nice guys often don’t finish last…and very often a lifetime of wisely and kindly helping those around you will come back and, rather than kick you in the butt, actually boost that butt up, often when you least expect it!
Don’t settle with your comfort zone. Try something different, go for that dream even though it seems crazy and impractical and perhaps (gasp!) foolish. I know other adults will tell you otherwise, and I know that your dad and I have even asked you a time or two to soberly consider your future. But at the end of the day, you’ll have plenty of years ahead to be appropriately (perhaps) serious and stodgy.
Don’t be convinced the world is against you, even when that’s what it looks like! You will be aMAzed by the effect your attitude will have on your future. Day by day we wake up, roll out of bed, in and out of the shower, and put on the success and failure of our days along with a clean pair of jeans. Your days will not be wonderful or horrible because of what happens to you or around you. They will be exactly whatever you think they are. The best day of your life may be the one where your friend hurt you deeply, your boss fires you, or a neighbor keys your car. You have no idea where your story is going: so be open and anticipate good things, even from the bad!
Don’t build a facade of “utter capability.” This, perhaps, is the most important point of all. Yes, I know you’re capable, and smart, and funny, and accomplished, and… And yes, I know your friends’ parents think the world of you. But the best way to live a lonely and isolated life is to live among people who think you don’t need them. People who feel they have no way to encourage you on the journey because there is nothing you can’t do. People who feel they don’t matter to you, because they have nothing to give. I’m not saying be a phony; I’m saying be real, actually. Because we do truly all need each other.
Those are the words I’d say, and I will say, to my daughter ~ and my sons ~ as they prepare to grab their sheepskin and skedaddle. Words that have come to me only with the wisdom that comes from age; words that they may only negligibly take to heart because of their youth.
While I’m seriously praying their hearts are open to the message, I don’t really care whether or not they thank me for it in the end. All that matters is that I stepped out of my comfort zone, shared my heart with them (albeit imperfectly), and cheered them on.
And I hope the words and thoughts settle deep into their hearts as they flip that tassel…
What words of wisdom do you want to impart to YOUR high schooler/teenager before they’ve flown the nest? What words have you already shared?
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