In honor of my son Nick's graduation from Truman State University and in recognition of all the students who will be graduating from high school this week, I would like to resurrect an editorial I wrote 11 years ago. After a family member reminded me about this editorial and said it is one she has had on her refrigerator all these years, I went back through old issues of the Cassville Democrat and found it. Surprisingly, the advice I'd offer today's graduates isn't much different than the advice I offered back in 1999. So here is my advice . . .
Dream big dreams, shoot for the stars, brainstorm about what excites you the most in this world.
Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Make the words "I can't" taboo and replace them with the manta of "I can."
Remember the people in your life who offered encouragement and inspiration. Take time to tell them what a difference they made in your life.
Be a goal setter. Write those goals down on paper and tape them to your bathroom mirror where you will see them each morning before you start a new day.
Never give up.
Dare to be different. Stop marching in place alongside your peers and instead step out of line and find your own direction in life.
Realize your potential and surround yourself with people who appreciate the real you.
Don't skip class. An education is too important to take for granted. One day you'll reminisce about your days in the classroom and wish you could go back.
Learn to appreciate your parents and siblings. Once you leave home, those relationships become precious.
Read, read and read some more.
Challenge yourself by promising to learn or do something new each day.
Forgive and forget. Live and learn. Don't hold onto grudges.
Hold tight to enduring friendships and let go of negative influences. Learn to distinguish between relationships that build you up or tear you down. If you listen to your heart closely, you'll know the difference.
Be still and allow yourself some down time. Taking time for yourself allows you to regroup and re-energize.
Dedicate your life to making this world a better place to live. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or gesture. Take your mind off your own problems by helping others.
Seek to find beauty in all people. Never consider yourself better than another human being. Become a builder of bridges rather than an erector of walls.
Keep the faith. The world is too precarious a place for you to venture it alone. Find strength and comfort in God's acceptance and love and know that life is full of new beginnings. Graduation is just one of many milestones awaiting you.
And don't ever stop believing in yourself. Life is a journey with many adventures ahead. Treat each day as a gift and you'll live life with no regrets. ~ Lisa Schlichtman