So, former high school students, today is your graduation day? Congratulations! Today is the first day of the Rest of Your Life, and all that jazz.
First things first, let me get something out of the way: Adulthood is awesome.
Yes, I know. People are going to haze you, insisting that you have no idea how tough it is out there in the “real world.” For the most part, they are right. It’s hard work making your way in the world.
Whether you choose to work with your brains, your brawn or some combination thereof, the real world is not like high school. Few employers will let you slide just barely getting by only to pull it all out at the end with some extra credit essays and a really rockin’ book report.
Conversely, however rarely in the real world is anyone crowned “King” and “Queen” of your group so, on the upside, there’s that.
You will also find in the real world that having the coolest car or the “right” clothes, while nice, will mean much less than it did in high school.
Isn’t that a kicker? When you can finally almost afford that stuff, you’ll find it that much less alluring. Go figure! That’s irony, kids. That one comes up a LOT in adulthood.
Glory days a myth
Now, let me clue you in on the one little lie all adults will tell: They wish they could be a kid again.
None of us REALLY wish we could go back to high school.
OK, by “none” I mean none of the normal ones. Sure there are those rare birds who peaked in high school and are now destined to relive their “glory days” ad nauseum. Everyone enjoys a good “when I was young” story from time to time, but trust me, if your entire anecdotal repertoire consists of the big play you made in football your senior year, or you have to continually remind people you were had majorette in 10th grade (and you are well into your 30s), you might need professional help.
No, we all like to wax rhapsodic about the carefree days of youth, but you, having lived it most recently, know the truth: High school is no picnic.
You are old enough to have responsibilities — but not old enough to make final decisions. Your time, as filled with enriching and fun activities as it may be, is never truly your own.
For the most part, even if your parents have begun to give you more freedom, the truth is that your time and life has not yet been your own. Someone else decided where you would live, what you would eat, drink, and how you would be merry.
Can you go to that party? Stay out late? Play that game? Take that job? Can you have money for the clothes, shoes, tutoring, gas and so much more? Generally, that has been someone else’s call.
That all ends, if not today, then very soon. Probably sooner than you think.
Most of the veteran adults would admit, if pressed, that we wouldn’t want to return to the limitations and lack of control of childhood for all the tea in China (that’s old people speak for “never”).
That is because for all the bills, balancing acts and sometimes crippling sense of responsibility that being grown and on your own entails, the truth is that for the most part adulthood is AWESOME.
You are, for the most part, Captain of your own destiny. You can live where you want, get the education you want (or don’t, it’s your call).
You can choose your friends based on common interests, not common geography. If you want something, you can reach into your own wallet to buy it (presuming you got the job, education or some combination thereof as mentioned above).
Adulthood equals freedom and all nostalgia for youth aside, it’s hard to put a price tag on that.
Speaking of price tags, I will point out that soon you will realize that what constituted “good money” in high school will barely make rent in the real world, I’m just saying.
(See also: need more education and/or life skills, above.)
Make it count
Graduation day could truly be said to be the first day of the rest of your life. Your parents have gotten you to this point. God willing, you will now have five times as much time to make your life what you’ve always hoped and dreamed it will be. What you choose to do — and make — of your life really is up to you.
So take a look around. Take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to thank the people who got you here today.
Then take the next 80 or so years and really make them count.