This week, as you clutch that diploma with both hands and fling that funky, flat chapeaux into the air, there’s a few things I need you to do. First, I urge you to take a moment to acknowledge your heroes. Look into those bleachers, find your parents and give them two thumbs up. Take a moment and be grateful, if only in your own head, for everything they’ve done for you for the last 18 years, or 6,570 days. Because, believe me, it was major, and you were very, very expensive.
Next, take your time and always keep your eyes on the prize.
Everyone will now tell you that the world is your oyster. But what if you’re allergic to seafood? Think of the world as your cupcake, instead. But here’s the thing: no pastry is free. And that prize may at first allude you. In the coming years, you can try to snatch your future as it spins around you like a raging tsunami, but without both eyes wide open, you’ll just grab onto extraneous air, trying to catch something worthwhile. Concentrate on the goal, not the circuitous route heading there. Your time will come. Life is a marathon – not a sprint. Dr. Phil says so.
Also, the things in this life that came so easily to you up until this moment will now have to be earned via really intense work, concentration, and endless hours of studying. You’ll quickly realize that being in the top percentile of your graduating class doesn’t mean a hill of beans at the University of Real Life. You’ll no longer be the smartest cookie in the carton of Chips Ahoy. You may even be perfectly average. And as such, you will need to learn and absorb like your life depends upon it. And it sort of does.
Just because you’ll dedicate the next fraction of your life to books and highlighters, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Just ask my son. He’ll graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry with a concentration in chugging and BeerLympics.
But please party wisely. Although I attended college during the Jurassic Period, I vividly recall being drunk with freedom and injecting a “joie du vivre” into every day of my existence there. That, sadly, translated to illegally fixing my license (it was paper in those days) to mirror the fact that my liver felt like it was much older than 19 years old. College towns are usually chock-full of mega-alcoholic offerings and suffice it to say, I was a small town girl whose ability to hold three cups of Bud Light while doing The Bump surpassed my ability to consume it with dignity. Enjoy your life but don’t be a sloppy pig. No prospective suitor wants to date anyone whose regurgitation is on their shoe.
Drink judiciously and employ self-respect.
So graduates, here you are, on the cusp of a whole new world. Graduation parties clutter your calendar and Senior Week awaits. Conduct yourselves in a manner that will not mortify your priest or your parents.
Have a good life, people. Blossom into that person who, when you were 10 years old, you wanted to be when you grew up. Be the person who is not necessarily a leader, but not a follower either. Followers get crop-dusted. Be a version of yourself that will only get finer and lovelier with time. The world is your cupcake. Eat it with joy and gusto and do not wash it down with a red solo cup of Bud Light.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.