Graduations are just stops along your life voyage.
The entire town may show up to wish you well on your journey from this port to who knows where. You are the star today.
And this is your celebration.
From Now on, you are basically on your own.
Sure, your mom and dad and siblings will hold the fort for you while you visit the world and taste its adventures. You might get a job right away; but deep down, in your gut, you know you don't know everything you need to know.
What do you know?
That books contain the accumulated knowledge of your people. That there are more books to read and digest than the number you have already read and digested. That you are already ahead of your parents, but nowhere ready to go at life on your own, the way your parents did. The amount of knowledge you need is much more.
What do you need?
You need a compass, for sure. You need to know where True North is, where your heart is, where your values are buried. Where you will be content with yourself. And you need more knowledge, more skills for each challenge you encounter. Learning is a life-long pursuit.
Are you ready to eat well, sleep well, and play well?
You have freedoms now that you never did. You have the freedom to purchase and prepare your own food. How you take care of yourself will influence your quality of life. Junk food will kill you in your prime. If you don't recognize what's on the label of a product, don't buy that product. (as expressed by Jamie Oliver!)
Sleep is your friend. You don't get enough, your performance will suffer. Sleep is underrated. Get your eight hours and be jealous of those hours.
Play with enthusiasm and with fairness, to yourself, to your friends. Think of consequences when you play. If you play fair and respect your partner, the future will remain rosy for both of you.
Are you ready to work until the job is done well?
Ah, yes, until the job is done well! You may be working for the first time in your life at an eight hour job. You will be tired and overwhelmed by the responsibilities. You may want to skip a day when you didn't sleep well, when you didn't play enough. Your job will define who you are to the boss, to your colleagues who depend on you doing your part. Show them they can rely on you. Do you feel like complaining? Don't. Call your older brother and ask for advice. Call your father. Let someone guide you on how to solve this new problem. Doing your job well is what your schooling prepared you for, what your parents prepared you for. Man Up!
You'll be pursuing a career and pursuing a life partner.
These two forces will sometimes be at odds with each other. You'll be working long hours when you want to spend time with that special person. Communicate your needs and be transparent. Your boss may not understand, and neither will that special person. They may not understand, but they will be cognizant that you tried your best to satisfy each of their needs. Trying counts. Not trying, being sneaky, lying and blaming others, never helps.
Plan for tomorrow, but live today.
Life is right here in front of you, in the food you choose to eat, the people you are with, the work you are doing. Be present, be conscious of the blessings you have. Appreciate all you have, and never take anyone or anything for granted. Be generous with your wealth, with your caring. What you give to others will be returned four-fold. Today is all you have for today.
May you marvel at the world you'll see, the things you'll accomplish, the love you will give.