REVELATIONS: Happy graduation, welcome to the world
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I never think much about high school.
I enjoyed my time there well enough and participated in a number of activities, sports and clubs during my tenure. But when I was a student, I spent most of my energy fantasizing about the future - the days after high school.
I don't remember why I was in such a hurry to grow up then, to get out into the world.
But I suppose it's not unusual for teenagers on the cusp of adulthood to assume the years following high school are more exciting and challenging than their high school years.
After all, graduation means they venture on to college or full-time work, which means no curfews, rules or parental supervision. The rest of the world will consider them "grown up." That's what they think, anyway.
The days leading up to my own high school graduation were seeped in doubt-filled excitement. My girlfriends went shopping for new graduation dresses and shoes, and I convinced my mother to get my nails and toes done so I could proudly prance my new open-toed graduation dress shoes across the stage to collect my diploma.
I remember lining up outside the building before commencement - a large community center in Marietta, Ga., that could successfully fit the hundreds of graduates in my senior class and the families who accompanied them.
The energy was ripe and tangible. Every capped and gowned graduate had a story about where they were going next - what college they would attend, what dreams they would accomplish and countries they would travel. I too, had dreams and plans that day.
And I remember feeling the heaviness of knowing the start of those plans were about to begin. I also remember feeling a bit of terror knowing that whatever I chose to accomplish, I would be doing it on my own. And if I failed, I would only have myself to blame.
It's graduation season right now for so many students across the country. My brother, Michael, is earning his second master's degree, and one of my old high school buddies, Laura, is earning her first masters this semester. But in my opinion, there is no graduation that compares to high school. It's the childhood-to-adulthood transition.
It's the time when friends go their own ways, people lose touch, you discover what you like and don't like about yourself, and a time to let yourself go a little nuts challenging the boundaries your parents and society set for you.
Many high school seniors are probably experiencing the same wave of doubt-filled excitement as they approach their own graduation in the coming weeks.
But I encourage you to remember a few things, graduates. When you're sitting in your ceremony, know that in 10 years, you likely won't remember the details of any of the inspirational speeches you hear.
You won't remember what silly fight you had with your parents the morning of, or the morning after your commencement. You won't remember that teacher's name who used to drive you crazy, or the name of the cute guy or girl you used to crush on in second period biology.
Ten years from now, you'll appreciate the day for what it is - a celebration of a milestone.
You will look back and realize that you were just starting life, that you didn't know everything, and Mom and Dad were right about a few things after all.
You'll realize that a few of those passions you were convinced would become your future will be lost. A few of the friends you were convinced would be around forever, you'll outgrow. And the freedom of adulthood was a lot more appealing when you weren't the one paying bills, working full time and paying down the credit card bill.
But I say all this so you'll realize one very important thing. The next few years are what you make of them. You will succeed, and you will fail. You will laugh, and cry, and discover who are you and what you want - maybe for the first time.
But, most importantly, I hope you will realize that you never run out of chances to find your path. You will always have one more day. No one can set your timeline, or establish the right path for you.
And if you have a dream to be anything, or do anything, there is a way to achieve it. That, I know for sure.
So, enjoy your graduation day and the days to come.
And if you find yourself off your path, I pray that God will help you find your way back. Or steer you to the one you were supposed to be on in the first place.
Congratulations. Welcome to the world.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.