Let me be clear, the chances of me ever giving a commencement speech are probably next to none. I don’t have a social issue to whine about or nor would I pat everyone on the back and give them a shiny participation trophy. I’m still in college and have watched some of my family members and closest friends trade in their training wheels for a big kid bike the past couple years. I still have a lot of learning to do for myself but, if I could leave people with some last advice as take on the real world it would probably sound something like this:
Accept Reality. Time flies, college is really over and it is bittersweet but it is over. Whether you are pumped to be getting out of here or are sweating bullets because you are so nervous for the entire unknown you are facing; you have to leave. College isn’t designed to last forever. For one, you’d be broke. Even if Bernie Sanders became president, he would not let you stay in college for the rest of your life for free. That is just not realistic. Nevertheless, you should be happy about all that has happened for the past four years and not depressed that it is over. The more you sulk and try to live in the past the more you will miss out on what is in front of you. You can’t set sail with your anchor down.
Although you need to move on, never forget where you came from. You need to keep looking and moving forward but take pride in what Hanover has molded you to be. Your alma-mater might not the most well-known, booming, popular school from a metropolis; however, you know how to treat people like family. We might barely have enough people to put us on the map but, if the scale was measured by the number of genuine people, we’d be as big as New York City. Furthermore, you know how to work hard and celebrate accordingly (Spring Term). Hanover has made you creative if you don’t even see it in yourself. Whether it’s from your liberal arts education or the fact that you’ve gotten used to making your own fun because there is nothing else to do around here, you know how work with different kinds of people to achieve what you want.
What you learned in Kindergarten is 391094954x more important than your college degree. Please, I beg you; don’t forget the virtue of COMMON SENSE. You’ve been slammed with so much information the past four years that you might have forgotten what common sense even looks like. Be intellectual in the right settings but strive to be wise all the time. People who get 4.0s might not have a lick of wisdom. Don’t be too proud to ask for help but don’t become dependent. Treat other people how you want to be treated, work hard and say thank you. As Common sense is not common.
If you are more satisfied from the number of likes on your graduation selfie as opposed to the people who drove here to see you walk across the stage, then you need to take a hard, long look in the mirror. It’s about you and the people who you love. It’s not about pleasing the masses, how many friends you have and the number organizations you’re in. If you can’t make yourself happy, you can’t make other people happy. If you can’t keep all your own ducks in a row, then you have no business trying to handle someone else’s. You won’t hit multiple bulls-eyes if you throw all your darts at once. If you rather have a bunch of friends that don’t really care about you as opposed to having a few that actually love and care for you; then you’re in for lonely ride. Be yourself and the people who like you for who you are will be there for you. Those are the ones who matter.
Lastly, do what you want to do. Be your own trademark that people know what it stands for when they see it. Have faith, beliefs and passions. Don’t be wishy washy and don’t always just do what you are told to do. You’re pretty dang lucky that you live in a place that lets you blaze your own trail and allows you to learn from your mistakes. Often times we are holding the lock to our own chains but don’t do what it takes to use it. If you choose to be free you know you are responsible for everything you do regardless of the rules that surround you. Be free but don’t be negligent. No one has made the same mistakes as you have and has learned the lessons that you did. Own your own crazy. If you see an opportunity then you better jump on board with it. You don’t get to pick when you start or finish in life but everything in between is up to you. As my favorite artist Kacey Musgraves says “follow you arrow wherever it points.”