A Shiny New You

Posted on 25 June 2009


In May and June of each year across our country, tens of thousands of high school, trade school, junior college, undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students complete their particular levels of education and receive certificates, diplomas, and degrees in ceremonies designated “commencements.” Marking a new beginning in the lives of those graduating, these ceremonies most often include addresses by school administrators, students, and distinguished guests, as well as recognition for class members deemed to have excelled in various academic, athletic, or community endeavors.  Frequently lost in the reverie of the moment, however, is the opportunity that your “new beginning” provides you.


Every end in life is a seminal event, containing within it the seeds of a new creation.  As you graduate and advance to further education, a job, or a career, your surroundings and circle of friends and acquaintances will likely change.  This change provides you, the graduate, the unique opportunity to reinvent yourself, to become the person you have always wanted to be.  Take this opportunity to change for the better. In new surroundings and among new people, it is much easier for you to replace attitudes, personal characteristics, and behaviors that have failed you in the past with improved ones.  Contemplate who you are, what you believe, and for what you stand. And, resolve to apply these principles to every aspect of your life.


Your life is much shorter and more precious than you realize. Every human being on this planet contributes, to greater or lesser degrees, to the betterment or deterioration of our civilization.  We are, by nature, social creatures and interdependent in ways that you have yet to conceive.  If you are to live your life to the fullest, I believe that you will discover that your greatest achievements and satisfaction come when you help others, regardless of your career choice or position in life.  As you continue your life, make a difference in the lives of others.


And, as your life advances, do not forget to look back.  We all owe a very large debt to those people in our lives who have nurtured us, encouraged us, and helped to mold us into the people that we are to become.  For each of us, the list is different.  For most, however, it includes parents, grandparents, extended family members, teachers, friends, and neighbors.  Remember, express your gratitude, and maintain relationships, if possible, with those who have shared your life experiences and helped you along the way.


Most importantly, recognize that you are the lead character in your own life and have ultimate responsibility for its outcome.  While others may advise and assist you, you are the one who must act and bear the consequences, good or bad, of such actions.  As you move to the next phase of your life, seize the opportunity to take control.  Too many people live their lives in a vain attempt to meet the expectations of others for them.  Summon the courage to politely lay aside those burdens and establish your own goals and expectations, in keeping with your interests, desires, and talents.


As you go through life, change will be a constant.  As humans, each step in our development is but a prelude to our futures.  It is only with a fully developed sense of self that you will be able to invoke the peace of mind, confidence, and inner resources necessary to cope and adapt successfully.  And so, to those of you “commencing” the next phase of your life, I humbly recommend the following life principles.


Believe in yourself.


All of us have resources that go untapped until we face challenges requiring them.  Realize that these traits and talents are within you and challenge yourself to move beyond your comfort zone in assuming new challenges and boldly facing adversity.


Follow your passions.


The world abounds with interesting people, places, and opportunities.  When you discover that about which you have true passion, pursue it.  That is exactly what the “giants” of science, technology, history, and the arts did.  While your passion may not produce universal recognition, it will provide you with a source of stimulation and a sense of fulfillment.


Be true to your principles.


Our world, now more than ever, desperately needs people of principle.  Whether or not you are religious, I am certain that you have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong.  Use this moral compass in all areas of your life, and you will become a person of substance.


As you “commence” the next phase of your life, consider that the value of a human life is not to be discovered in wealth or fame, but in the unique spirit and contribution of the individual to the world community.  If you follow these precepts, I believe that, regardless of your particular career or circumstances, you will live a life of greater meaning, fulfillment, and happiness.

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