In 1997, Mary Schmich wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”. Not many people know of the article, or even the song by Baz Lurhmann that came out of it, but the advice is valuable, profound, and precise. One line of advice in Schmich’s column that has stuck with me over the years is as follows:
“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”
The morning after graduation, our graduates tend to worry about the answer to the question, “What now?” Do not worry about the perfect answer. Only understand that you are responsible for the answer somewhere down the line. Also understand that your answer to that question belongs to you. Your teachers, bosses, friends, or even parents cannot answer that question for you. Nonetheless, no matter the answer, you need to make sure that all the decisions you make throughout your life is towards what you want to do. You want to be a doctor? Do it. Make the right choices that will allow you to be successful. Want to be a tattoo artist? Do it. Make the right choices towards an apprenticeship that will develop your techniques. You don’t know what to do? Do not worry. I did not know if I wanted to go to college when I graduated high school. I did not know that I wanted to be a teacher until my senior year at Texas State; and even then, I waited another year before accepting a job offer from Madison because of uncertainty.
In my opinion, we do not need to worry about the future, we just need to respect the challenges the future brings us. Our journey throughout life is far from linear, so do not worry about whether you are on the correct path or not. As long as you are healthy and self-aware, just celebrate your milestone and move towards the next one.
Along with any fears and doubts that you may have about what entails after you leave high school, it is without a doubt that you are celebrating the completion of as many as 13 years in the public school system. This is not an achievement to be taken lightly and every single teacher that you have had along the way has quietly been checking off on a list that now says you are ready for ‘the real world.’
Do question the validity of your preparedness as you step forward and take a role outside of the sheltered walls of your soon to be alma mater and take solace in the warm words of those that found their place in the world.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Theodore Roosevelt
“I surround myself with positive, productive people of good will and decency.” Theodore Nugent
“Work is the true elixir of life. The busiest man is the happiest man. Excellence in any art or profession is attained only by hard and persistent work. Never believe that you are perfect. When a man imagines, even after years of striving, that he has attained perfection, his decline begins.” Theodore St. Martin
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Theodore Geisel
Congratulations Seniors and thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your journey.
Greetings to the survivors of AP Psychology and the Senior Class of 2014!
May you practice “positive fights” and remember that the battle may be lost, but you can still win the war. Also, please respect yourselves because otherwise, others will not. May the skills you learned not only in my class, but in all of your classes (including the real-life classroom) carry you far in health and happiness. And in the end, if you don’t like something, change it – you are your own master.
Congratulations Class of 2014,
I have seen many of you grow up into the future leaders of tomorrow. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. “It’s O.K to cry because its over, but don’t forget to smile because it happened.
-Walonda Whitaker “Whitty”
Dear Class of 2014,
Congratulations on surviving four years of high school. I have a few pieces of advice that will hopefully serve as some advice to you as you start on your new journey post-graduation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as strong to think.” Starting a journey outside of the walls of James Madison will be daunting at first. Remember to treat the people you meet in life with kindness and respect. No amount of education, money, or success will be able to make up for distasteful behavior.
Pursue your dreams. You will face challenges in life that you could never predict as a high school student. The trick is to meet those challenges armed the confidence, focus, and drive that will help you overcome it. Don’t let these road blocks change what you want to do. It can be difficult to find something that you’re passionate about, but it is absolutely possible. It is a true gift to go to work every day and get paid while it doesn’t “feel like work”. If you can’t find a passion, well, paying your bills every month is great too.
Much luck to you in your future. When you become rich and famous, don’t forget your favorite teachers. We’ve always rooted for you all to achieve greatness!
Dear Future Contributors to Society,
You have accomplished much-be glad-but this is not the pinnacle. This is a stepping stone; an experience to draw from as you continue on your journey to become all you are supposed to become in your life. Because I am an English teacher, I will send you off with an extended metaphor. Your future is an unwritten story and you are the Pulitzer Prize winning author of your own best seller. Don’t take the easy way out and only write a short story; dip your pen into the bottomless inkwell that is life and write an epic adventure that will leave your readers cheering for you-the hero!
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up. Allow yourself time to stop and “smell the roses” along the way. Cherish your family and friends; in the end, they are all that matter. A piece of my heart will always be with Madison and I hope you feel the same.