It’s that time of year again – high school graduation time.
Think back, if you will, to your own high school graduation. If you are like most of us, you probably didn’t listen to the speeches given that day – to this day I wonder what was said at my graduation. I’m guessing it went something like this:
You are at a crossroads in your life today. Important decisions are coming up. In these next few years, you’ll make critical decisions about career paths and future happiness. You’ll decide today where you’ll be in thirty years.
Go out into the world and be the best that you can be. Get a job. Make money – lots of it. Save for retirement. Make more money. Buy lots of toys.
If I’m ever invited to speak at a high school graduation, I’m going to say something totally different. Here’s my version of that speech:
There will be many pressures on you in the coming days. Everybody you meet will have words of advice for you to contemplate. They’ll tell you to study hard, work hard and climb the corporate ladder. Save for retirement. Plan a family. Do the responsible thing.
I say, to thine own self be true. Follow your passion – wherever it leads. Life is short; you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Listen carefully to me kids – our society places a plethora (yes, I would use that word – I like how it sounds) of demands upon us. Society demands we work for that mythical white picket fence, bunches of cars in the driveway, and 2.4 kids. Just wait – you’ll feel that pressure. It’s what everyone does.
But what if that is not what you want? What if you want to march to your own drummer? What if your straight and narrow is different from another’s straight and narrow? Then what?
I’ll tell you what: to thine own self be true. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes your inner self dance.
I think that’s what is lacking in our society today. We’re all too busy keeping up with the Jones’ and thinking that another toy will make us happy, but really – all we need to do is pursue our passions.
My niece posted a status on Facebook the other day: I so want to follow my passion! I just don’t know what my passion is.
She’s got it right. There is no doubt in my mind that Hannah will follow her passion once she discovers it. In the meantime, she’ll explore various avenues and possibilities. She’ll take classes and volunteer and be involved in her community in any way she can. And the whole time, she’ll be searching for her passion. She’ll find it. I know she will.
We can all find our passion – if we want to. Some are luckier than others in that their passion finds them; others have to go looking for it. But my challenge to all of us today is this: to thine own self be true. Find your passion and follow it – wherever it may lead.
It’s never too late to do what makes you happy – even if your own high school graduation took place back in the dark ages.