A message for graduates from a teacher who cares

Many of us have had the opportunity to recently attend a graduation whether it be from 8th grade, high school, college, or beyond.  Graduations are such hopeful events.  The graduates are not only at the end of something, but at the beginning of hopefully something great.  Although I haven’t been invited to be a speaker for graduates and don’t expect to be anytime soon (I work at an elementary school), this is my message for graduates…

What will you do now?  Will you pursue more schooling?  Will you travel the world?  Will you take some time off?  Will you get a job?   Will you move?  Will you make new friends?  Will you make enough money to support yourself?  Will you be happy?

Graduates will get asked these questions and more by parents, family members, and other well wishers and they are all focused on one thing… 

You, you, you, you, you, you, you…. 

Although I have much still to learn in life, one thing I have learned and try to live daily (many times unsuccessfully) is that focusing on yourself will never lead to the greatest success, fulfillment, and ultimately happiness.  Society and the hoopla around graduation encourages us to look inward, but this sort of belly button gazing will never lead us to the heights that life has in store for us.  

So, instead of focusing on what will come next for “you”, focus on how you will make life better for someone else.  Find a way to start serving others wherever you are.  Instead of grasping for your own dreams, focus on how you can help others achieve their dreams.  No matter what path you choose, the gifts you have been given are meant to be shared, and we as a society need you at your best to be at our best.  Although the message of graduation can be very individualistic, the simple truth is that we are all in this life together.  We depend on each other and we are depending on you.  

If you are among the best and brightest, I ask you to consider a career in education.  Although there can be a lot of negativity from the media and others around education, after 12 years (I graduated in 2001), I still feel like I have the best job in the world.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve those in our school and have found my dream in the workplace by working to help others achieve theirs.  It is very rare for me to have a day when I’m not excited to get to school while so many others view work as something to be endured to the next weekend or vacation time.  There are certainly careers that make more money, but with 40 or 50 years of work ahead of you, loving your job is worth a lot more than dollars.  Choose wisely.

Congratulations to all of “you!”  What will “you” do now?  Go and make a difference for all of “us!”

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