An open letter to all local graduates:

Congratulations!

Woohoo!

You’ve made it. You probably didn’t think at times that you would make it, but you did. Perhaps you thought that your graduation would never get here, but it did. You did, and it did. It’s all a great lesson – a life lesson, one that you can carry with you going forward and, actually, for all of your remaining years, of which there will hopefully be many -- that perseverance, patience and hard work does indeed pay off. It’s not just some old wives’ tale.

And don’t let anyone tell you any differently, graduating, either from high school, college, a trade school of any other institution of higher learning, is a big deal. It’s a truly big deal, make absolutely no mistake about it. In fact, it’s probably one of the first major accomplishments, if not the very first, of your young life. So revel in it. Pat yourself on the back and accept, with pride and a sense of fulfillment, all the accolades and well wishes coming your way.

It’s like they say in that if you fail to stop every once and while to enjoy your successes, you’ll never truly enjoy the journey.

OK, now what do you do? Where do you go?

Ahh, that’s up to you. But don’t worry, for it’s what you’ve been waiting for, for a long, long time.

Every generation of young people dating back centuries has yearned for the day when they can spread their wings and not have to listen to some adult tell them what to do, whether it be at school or home. Well, that day has arrived – finally. It is another day you thought would never get here, but it did. You have the freedom to chart your own course. You can do what you want to do, whatever that is, go where you want to go, wherever that is, and be you want to be, whomever or whatever that is. No one is stopping you anymore – except you, that is.

So go for it, grab it and do what you want, how you want, when you want, however much you want and with whomever you want, or no one at all. It’s your decision.

But know at the same time that you don’t know everything and you don’t have all the answers. None of us do. If you live to be 100 years old, or even older, there will still be questions for which you will have no answers. You are always learning, trying and, yes, sometimes even failing and having to start all over again.

Failing is not a sign of failure, if that makes any sense. We all fail every once in a while, sometimes often. It is, then, simply a sign that you’re trying, which is good. You can’t learn and advance unless you try.

With that, then, don’t be afraid to ask an adult – someone older – for help or advice. We’ve all done it, and continue to do it. It’s another one of those life skills. It’s not a sign of weakness, but yet another indication that you’re trying your best to make the right decisions in your life.

Adults are always ready to help. It’s what we do as a species. But be wary – very, very much so – of those adults who offer their help and then, without you first asking for it, give it. What they’re doing is called being presumptuous, and it’s not cool. Or fair. Or courteous. Or respectful. It’s stepping in and getting in the way of you spreading those wings, which is what this time in your life is all about in the first place.

Adults should mind their manners and go by this credo: “If you want my help, all you have to do is ask for it. And I don’t recall you having asked for it yet.”

Anyway, enough of this, handing out advice – even guidelines for asking for, and taking, advice. It’s time for you – you and only you -- to do.

Don’t be afraid. You’ve got this. You really do. And, like I said, there’s a whole army of people at your disposal who will help to pick you back up – er, I mean, offer to help to do so. Because remember, you’re the one steering this thing – this thing called life – now.

Best wishes,
Steve King