A little advice for those graduates

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

We’re approaching that time of year where our finest students dress in goofy clothes and parade across a stage to receive a piece of paper that changes their lives.

Bullitt County high schools will soon graduate, not to mention local college students, eighth graders and pre-schoolers.

High school graduation is the big one; it’s the most common passage of life many will experience.

For some it might be the most important moment of their younger lives.

Older people enjoy it as well, for it’s the one time of year they can get away with spewing free advice.

Maybe I’m old enough to supply some of this advice. Or maybe I’m just old. But here’s some advice from someone with at least a little experience:

A wise man once told me to laugh, cry and think each day. I like that advice.

Another wise man also said to take yourself seriously, but not totally seriously.

My interpretation: Be the absolute best person you can be, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the world’s best person.

Try your best to be your best, but if you don’t become your best in a day, relax. You have your whole life to improve.

You should laugh each day, somehow. Get a daily calendar with jokes in it. Watch something funny on television (before bed time is ideal). Get a joke book.

Crying each day, that’s a little tougher for many.

What it means is, remind yourself how good your life really is.

You can be grateful for your health, or your family, or your food. There are many other people that don’t have these basic luxuries of life. If you have them, be thankful. You can feel sorrow for those who don’t, but this doesn’t mean feel pity and be done with it. Help others when you can, and in the long run it will help you. Trust me.

Think every day.

Think all the time. Excepting times when you simply have to cool off your brain and vegetate, think. There is always something to think about:

Why is there air, what makes a Life Saver mint spark, how does the Steve Miller Band get more radio play now than it did 30 years ago? Thinking constantly keeps your brain fresh and your mind young.

Never be afraid to try something new or different.

Maybe a different pizza topping or side dish. Maybe a new song or book, or even a ballet.

Do something you might not otherwise experience. You never know when you might find something in the world that you’ll enjoy.

Along with this, always keep your mind open.

Don’t instantly be against something you don’t understand. This ranges from different political or religious beliefs to green hair and multiple face piercings.

Another wise person once said, “I don’t like that man, I guess I’ll have to get to know him better.” (That was Abraham Lincoln)

A wise Grandma of mine told me a thousand times to respect my elders.

Out of the wrath of her hand upside my head I always have. But it’s not always easy to get to their level, and unfortunately you may not understand this one until you’ve reached it.

So please trust me and respect your elders.

Always remember you are entitled to nothing; A diploma is not a ticket to a king’s throne.

Rather, it’s the foundation of your adult life.

If you sit around expecting someone to hand you the world, then later in life you’ll have nothing but a diploma.

No one owes you anything. Too many people are already in line in front of you waiting for their free entitlements.

Work hard.

It’s a proven way to achieve entitlement. Don’t be afraid to do extra work.

It’s better to get something right than to lack credibility due to time clock restraints. Don’t be afraid of hard work.

Your body will not fail you for a little extra effort, and your brain will not explode and ooze out of your ears.

You are now responsible for yourself. Take care of your corner of the world.

Don’t litter, don’t waste electricity, don’t disturb your neighbors, and never place yourself above any other person.

A diploma is a great thing to have, but it, nor anything else, entitles you to a place above anyone.

Tell those that you care about that you do care about them.

I admit this one is trickier for me, I still work at it.

At some point someone you love may no longer be around for you to love. Appreciate any time with them and keep them somewhere in your heart just in case.

As far as college advice, my best suggestions are Ramen noodles and Kraft macaroni and cheese. If you’re going away to a true college campus, buy a good bicycle, and look for one cheap from a graduating student. When in doubt, wash all clothes in cold water and go easy on the soap.

My final advice for graduates: Don’t be sad. Graduation can make you cry (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). You feel anxious because the world as you know it is ending. Another wise person once said that every ending is a new beginning. Graduation is a time to focus on everything you’ve done to this point; It is also a kickstart into the rest of your life, and like any story, a new beginning is always exciting.

Congratulations and good luck to all of you. Be you, do your best, and relax; the rest will eventually take care of itself.