I was asked by a local publication to share my best wishes & advice for the current graduating class of 2020. This was my first narrative after my grandmother’s passing in May. I am so thankful that Brian Carlton asked me to do this because I lacked the motivation to write anything after her death.
I’m grateful to a few friends who were willing to share their thoughts & ideas with me as I went through this writing process. Thanks for being my tribe 💕. I hope y’all enjoy the letter to graduating seniors.
Senior Class of 2020,
Congratulations! What an amazing achievement you have just reached in life! I am so very happy for each and everyone of you! As a retired teacher, and now a local business owner, I know how hard each of you has worked in order to get to this day! Your greater community is so very proud of you.
So what happens next in your educational and life journey? The world today gives us a perception that times are too uncertain. Please know that your decisions are all within your circle of control. You have the ability to control your words, thoughts, actions, choices, behaviors, & efforts. I do realize these historic and unprecedented times are not how you envisioned your graduation. But, now is the time to celebrate your achievements, cherish your school memories, and look ahead to the future. Dig deep within yourself and find that inner strength to focus on potential opportunities for your future.
Speaking of new opportunities, some of you might be thinking of heading off to a university, community college, or possibly even in the “world of work”. No matter what path you take in the next few years, you will continue to evolve, change and grow as a young adult. Learning will be a constant in life.
As you transition into the next phase of life, here are a few reflective life learning experiences that I have found to be helpful in my journey. I hope you can use these 7 tips as insight & encouragement for your future endeavors.
1. Treasure those in your life. Love your “tribe of family & friends” fiercely. Nothing is guaranteed or promised in this world. So that being said, stay connected, call home! Visit home as much as you possibly can do it. Your family is a very important part of your journey & they will be your biggest advocate.
2. Keep life simple. Experiences & memories in life are the things you will always have, possessions will not last.
3. Dream BIG! Set goals for yourself. Life is not a sprint, it is a journey to be enjoyed & cherished. When you set a goal, understand it may take years to fully achieve, & be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
4. Show kindness to yourself & others. Let this one sink in for a minute. Life is not a perfect process. We all learn from success and failure. Be gracious & extend kindness in all things you do. Remember to say “thank you”, “yes ma’am”,& “no sir”. A kind heart goes a long way in our world.
5. Connections in life are important. The people you meet & encounter in life will sometimes circle back into your life via work, church, friends, or even into family circles. Use compassion, grace & understanding in difficult situations.
6. Find and develop your skills & talents. What are you passionate about? As you grow and change, your interests and inspiration can create new opportunities. Be flexible. Be willing to adapt to new ideas and change.
7. Last, but not least, keep your body strong … mentally and physically. Let’s elaborate. Reading as an adult helps your mental capabilities, increases vocabulary skill set, & can improve memory. Reading for information is a powerful tool. Become an independent thinker, read and form your own opinions about news, politics and the world around us. And remember, it is ok to disconnect from your devices and unwind at the end of the day. Reflection is an excellent way to disconnect from the daily grind and evaluate what is next. In those quiet moments (in the car, spiritual time,journaling, etc) allows you to evaluate your goals, make decisions about goals…is this the path I still wish to take? do I need to adapt my goals, what did I learn along the way? In essence, you can learn from your success & mistakes.
And finally, be physically active…get outside when you can, enjoy the natural world around you, it is good for your overall health.
My final parting wish to you today, “may you be richly blessed in your journey ahead”. Your greater community is excited to see how your success will continue to add to our future growth in the years ahead.
Co-owner of Wilkes County Hardware