A note to all recent grads: SMILE, damnit!


By Don Rush

I think by now most area students who are one of the Class of 2016 have completed their graduation ceremonies. With pomp and circumstance you walked down the aisle with robe and cap. You pushed your tassels from right to left.
You have graduated. Yay! Woo-hoo and congratulations! As I told Number One son, Shamus last year when he graduated from high school, “Now your real education starts.”
Here are some thoughts for you to ponder, Class of 2016, as you enter a totally new reality — the adult club.

Be Respectful
Up until now the world was pretty much your oyster — and it still is — but now you will have to start paying for it yourself. Gone are the days of your parents paying for everything and making the world revolve around you and only you. It is time to put on your big people’s pants and think about respect
Be respectful of your finances, understand the difference from your wants and your needs. Nobody told me this when I was young, so I will give you a tip as was told and calculated for me two years ago. It goes something like this: if you invest $15 a week starting at age 18, by the time you retire you will have a million dollars.
As early as you can talk to a retirement coach and get a plan going.
Be respectful of your time, because after school things go by pretty darned fast. Don’t squander your time — be bold, explore, try new things (as a side note, I suggest the new exciting things you try are both legally and ethically cool). You may find by trying new things you discover a new unimagined path that ignites your soul and gives you a deeper appreciation for life.
Be respectful of your parents — they have helped you more than you know now. Thinking about it, you won’t truly know until you get to be their age. Learn from them. In your life, repeat what they did correctly and change what you feel they failed on. Nobody is prefect.
Be respectful of others’ time, circumstances and feelings. You are now a member of the world, soon you will be a working member of society. It is no longer just about you and what you want. Be kind and compassionate to balance your passion.

Be empathetic
Have empathy for others as you would have them be empathetic towards you. In other words, think about other people before opening your mouth or acting out. For example . . .
When driving and somebody comes up behind you really fast and passes you, don’t get all angry and indignant. Stop and think . . . do you know what is going on in that person’s life? Maybe they just got word their daughter was in an accident and they just need to get to the hospital fast.
When dealing with others and building relationships, remember their life’s experiences have been different than yours. By being kind and compassionate you work towards being empathetic!
Have empathy for your parents, dangblabit! For 17 or 18 years they have tried to shield you from the world and some of its harshness. They have tried to give you things they didn’t have. They may have spoiled you a little, too.
Now, as you enter adulthood and wish to stand on your own, make your own decisions and do what you want — have empathy for your parents.
It is sometimes harder to cut the apron strings than you think. They cannot just turn off trying to protect you. Give them time and understanding as you spread your wings to fly.

Be tolerant, civil and patient
Be tolerant of other cultures, beliefs and attitudes if you want others to be tolerant of your beliefs and attitudes. Which leads me to . . .
. . . Be civil to others. Remember, you can always agree to disagree on any issue. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have to dislike or hate that someone. As a side note, who likes to be around “that guy” who is always “right” and is willing to let you know it?
Be patient. You will get to where you’re going when you get there. Please take the time to observe what is happening around you. Be curious, ask questions, listen . . . once in while just lay down on the grass and look up at the clouds and be in the moment.

Be humble, have humility and laugh
While it’s okay to have a little swagger in your walk, even if you are the best thing since sliced bread don’t look down your nose at others.
When you make a mistake, admit it to yourself and to others as quickly as possible. Don’t take yourself so seriously, learn to laugh at yourself instead of others and soon people will be laughing with and want to be around you.

Relax! Life is gonna’ be scary. You’re gonna make mistakes. It’s okay — we all go through the same type of issues. We learn. We live. We laugh and we love. Oh, I just thought of this . . . don’t just survive, live. Life is wonderful! Even when it is hard and painful life is full of gifts, you just have to always be looking for them.
Congrats and welcome to the club!

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