Best Advice for the High School Graduate

When I graduated from High School, the year book committee decided to ask the students what song should become our theme for the prom.

I gave it at least four seconds of intensive thought and then suggested “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” The committee, apparently having no sense of humor, went with “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters. It still makes me shiver.

Here’s my advice to High School graduates. It comes from a vantage point some twenty-eight years later: Don’t take it too seriously. Most of the things you worry about today won’t matter in a month. Some of the events breaking your heart right now will disappear like morning dew on grass within a week.

You will only make three really important decisions in your whole life:

1) Who you will spend it with. Choose your husband or wife with great care. This matters a whole lot.

2) What you will do for a living. Think hard about what you really enjoy doing and try to figure out how you can do it well enough to make a living with it. Once you know what it is, figure out what you need to do to get there.

3) What you believe in. What in your life is going to be non-negotiable? If the layers of you were stripped away, what would be at the your core? Let me suggest that you take as long as you need to carefully consider this. Life is full of choices. Knowing who you are and what you are about will everything much easier.

That’s it. You’ll note that I haven’t said anything about money. Money will come if you satisfy point number two.

I haven’t dropped any pearls of wisdom about how to “be happy” which will largely turn out to be a load of you-know-what anyway. No one is happy all the time. Don’t expect it. Being happy all the time is a big fat lie that gets told a thousand times a day by advertising companies. Get over the idea right now. But if you satisfy point number two you will be happy a reasonable amount of the time. That’s good enough. Trust me.

Nor have I droned on about integrity or honesty. Take another look at point number three. Settle all that stuff in your mind BEFORE you need to make the decisions and integrity can’t help but follow.

Don’t put off the last two points because procrastination sinks too many people already.

And when your life partner comes along (point number 1) don’t you dare let them get away. Realize that person is the greatest asset you will ever have and put in the time, effort and daily work it will take to keep it that way.

Don’t take anything else too seriously. Sweating the small stuff just leads to a Grey succession of “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”