Dear 2019 graduates,

I’m not sure if there’s anything that could be said that hasn’t already been said to graduating classes across the country as they prepare to leave the doors of their high school for the last time. 

As I think back to my graduation, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, At the ripe old age of 18. I do remember being asked, “what are your plans?“ over and over.  I suppose that people probably thought I had some grand scheme of what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go, and who I thought I’d be after I graduated.

Quite frankly, I was just busy enjoying where I was that at the time. I did later attend college and graduated, but three years later I still didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.

For the most part, I still don’t know.

I do know one thing. From the time you leave your high school doors for the last time as a student, do you very best to make good decisions. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes it’s really not.

When you don’t have a clue what you should do, don’t hesitate to ask your parents. Find a mature friend to consult. Ask an adult that you trust. There’s no shame in asking for advice. That’s probably one of the best decisions that you could ever make.

Sometimes the people in your life can see things in you that you yourself might not be able to see.

I know that when I graduated 36 years ago, I did not see myself sitting in the parking lot at McDonald’s earning a living by talking to my telephone like I am right now, in between appointments.

I do know that I was always fascinated with newspapers, little did I know I would end up owning and operating one. Of course, at that time I also didn’t have a clue that it would be on something called the Internet and that it would be something  that we call online.

I know it’s hard to imagine, But you could be doing something that hasn’t been invented yet. 

Always try to think outside the box. Don’t hesitate to find a new box if the one you’re in just doesn’t fit anymore. In other words be brave.  Take a chance! Don’t be afraid to try something that no one else has ever done.

My only regret at this point, is that I didn’t take more chances. That I didn’t step out of my comfort zone more often.

So I guess my only bit of advice to our graduates is to not  always play it safe. On the other hand, don’t make any bad decisions, sometimes those can be life altering taking away any opportunity of making better choices later.

I remember in college one of my teachers had told us “you won’t be the same person you are now, 20 years from now.” I thought he was wrong, it turns out that he was right.

For the most part my core beliefs and my moral compass hasn’t changed. The way that I look at the world around me has. But a lot of that is because I got out of the box.

Sometimes I jumped out of the box and ran away, other times I was dumped out of the box. 

I somewhat feel like you probably do at this stage in my life, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  Maybe you never really do.

At the same time I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished at this point.

So if you find yourself like me, 36 years after graduation, not really sure what you want to do, it’s all good. The most important choices that you can make from this point on, is to make good decisions.

But those good decisions lead you.  You may not end up in the headlines for accomplishing something that nobody else has done, I just don’t want to see you in the headlines for doing stuff that too many people have done wrong.

I know this hasn’t been real inspiring, at the same time being part of the Vinton community has shown me that a lot of your parents  have poured their hearts and souls into you. I don’t need to give you any advice that you probably already haven’t heard. I just want to gently remind you remember what mom and dad said. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help. Surround yourself with good friends. (Good friends: the ones that will tell you when you’re making a mistake as well as cheer you on when your life crashes around you.) 

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask someone else for advice when you come up empty-handed.

Here’s wishing the graduating class of 2019 the very best as you leave these doors. 

 Don’t forget where you came from, don’t forget to come back and visit, don’t forget to call your mom!

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