Monday, May 13, 2013

Keep On Graduating: Life is a Do-Over

Your graduation date is coming up soon. Congratulations! You are probably thinking in terms of the future: what job will you get? How much money will you make? When will your student loans be paid off?

How soon can you take a paid vacation?

You have accomplished an admirable feat by completing a phase of your education.

Now what?

It's funny how we keep re-adjusting our lives, isn't it? Every part of life has an end that leads to a new start. A few years ago (maybe more than that), if you were starting high school, you thought: this is scary and new-how will I find my way around? What will the classes be like? Who will be friends with me? Will I like the teachers?

What if I can't open my locker???

Starting college, in small ways, resembles starting high school-again, in that you don't know the surroundings, instructors, or fellow students. Otherwise, college is refreshingly different: This time, you get to re-invent yourself: what you wear doesn't matter, everybody is 'college poor,' you're all seeking what to do with your lives. Nobody has any history with you. Cliques are gone. At the same time, college can be a sort of cocoon that shields you from the outside world until you're finished.

And a bonus: no lockers.

If you are getting ready to graduate from college, now you're thinking: I'm done with school, now I'm going to have my career. Your career will present a new set of people to know and new surroundings as well. It seems that life is just one 'do over' after another...almost like 'graduating' again and again.

Isn't that great?

Think in terms of 're-inventing yourself.' You are probably going to do this several times in your life. It doesn't only mean in your career/what you do to pay your bills, although that will likely occur more than you think: you may find yourself bored with a job, you may get promoted to a different job, you may have your job eliminated. You may pursue higher education in order to move to a new level of your career or to make a change in it.

It also applies to your personal life: you may get married, you may have a child, you may part ways with various people. There will be negative experiences and difficult times as well as plenty of good times. You will certainly make new friends and have new experiences; you'll have lots of learning opportunities. Each time, you have a chance to start over and re-invent yourself: you can see your world through a different lens.

Isn't that great?

The key to re-inventing yourself successfully is the way you react to it. There will be times when graduating from something is not what you really wanted. You can decide to complain about it endlessly, or you can feel sorry for yourself briefly and then see the 'up' side. What opportunities does this open up for you? If you are free from the last phase, what can happen next? What do you want? And how will you get there?

After all, what if you never graduated? Who wants to stay in the same place doing the same things and knowing only the same people you know right at this minute?

Education gives you a good toolkit: In it, you'll find all the things you learned, but also: self-esteem, responsibility, goal-setting, accountability, initiative, accomplishment, and pride. Break out the toolkit often and bring out the things you need. They're in there. You earned them---use them.

And that is a great thing.

Keep graduating your whole life, and enjoy the do-overs!

In the words of Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

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