This is such an exciting time for you and I want to congratulate you on your incredible achievement.
You’re on your way to living on your own and doing your own thing, and it’s going to be an extraordinary experience! As you begin the next season of your life, I’d like to share some important truths for you to consider. Read them carefully and remember each one as you begin your adventure.
You have the freedom to define who you are.
You can choose to create your own identity and live it! Don’t allow others to define you, rather build your own voice and vision and make decisions that support it. Other people will always have their opinions about you, but you have the ability to allow them to matter- or not. As you grow older and your life evolves, so will your definition. Treasure it like a cherished gem. Alter it when necessary and honor it always. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.
Find your passion. You may be wondering about your future dreams and goals, as most graduates do. If you already have your ideas and formed your plans, embrace them! Take those big steps toward them! And if you don’t know just yet, please don’t worry! You’re still so young; you have time to discover what you love and even more time to pursue it. Also, passions sometimes change as you grow older and learn more about this world and where you see yourself in it. You never have to be stuck in one dream. Remember, you are in charge of your life, so make decisions as you go, according to your heart. Listen to it carefully. You’ll be much happier if you do.
Be responsible for your actions. From this moment on, YOU are accountable for who you are. Not your parents, your teachers, your peers, or anyone you would like to fault for your mistakes. Don’t make excuses. Own your actions because that is part of growing up. Make amends, adjustments, and decisions that allow you to redeem your bad choices, and do it with conviction. If you spend your life blaming others for your mistakes or your failures, you will never respect your own worth as a unique and capable individual. What a waste that would be to live a life constantly making excuses for yourself. Self-respect and confidence are built on taking responsibility for our lives and how we live them.
Life is unfair. You may already know this, but I promise you that you will continue to face many things in life that are unfair. This world is a broken place and because we live in it, things go wrong- often. If you can accept this now, you will be better able to handle much of what comes your way. The reality is that you will have to endure difficult situations, some out of your control. Be prepared to accept them as they come and learn to navigate through the tumultuous turns with rational reasoning and inner strength. Find the support you need through people you trust. And have comfort in knowing you are not alone.
There is no easy out. Seriously. If you find yourself stuck in a difficult situation, usually the only way out of it is through it. Be courageous and honest. Face the hard conversations and take action. I promise it’s worth traveling that tough terrain. You will ultimately triumph with new-found strength and insight for meeting that challenge. You will also develop integrity and this is the ultimate trait you will have earned by confronting the challenge head-on. The consequence of resolving conflicts responsibly is not only growing in maturity but you will also have peace in knowing you did the best you could.
You will fail. A lot. Failure is a part of life. Period. You may try several new things and fail miserably at them. You may fail with some relationships, some jobs, some dreams. You will probably regret many choices you make, and perhaps some may have lasting consequences. But always remember you can learn from it. Every failure has something useful for you to gain. Give yourself grace, because you are human. Make sure you are able to make amends where needed and move forward with the new knowledge you gained from that experience. Every time we fail, we are given an opportunity to grow and oftentimes, we grow the most through our failures.
Life is hard work. You must learn this lesson: In order to live a successful life, you have to put forth the effort. Period. Do you want a good job? Train yourself, get an education, start at the bottom like many do, to get there. Do you want good friends? BE a good friend. Do you want to be respected? BE respectful. Nobody owes you anything. You may think they do- but they don’t. YOU have to make the life you want. Don’t wait for it, thinking it will come to you and you are entitled to it. You have to earn it. Plain and simple. And if by chance you are handed a great opportunity, embrace it and call yourself incredibly lucky.
Don’t give up. You will be faced with conflicts and circumstances that can either raise you higher or drop you lower. It’s up to you to take the steps UP. Life can get ugly and downright difficult… but hold on! The hard circumstances you endure will inevitably be the stuff that reveals new layers of who you are. Every hardship builds wisdom. Life gets richer with adversity. Don’t let it take you down so low you can’t get back up. You will always discover some purpose in your pain if you’re open to finding it. Each trial you go through will ultimately transform you. These are the lessons in life that will bring you strength, resilience, and courage.
Respect this world and the people in it. You may not fully understand the complexities of this vast glorious earth, but as time goes on you will. Don’t take it for granted and please don’t destroy it. Be mindful of how you use the resources this wonderful world gives and be accountable for maintaining this extraordinary space we all live in. Don’t be careless or reckless in how you treat the natural gifts it offers us all. As for the people living in this world, they are valuable and worthy of your utmost respect. No matter who they are, what they believe or where they live, every human being matters. Don’t disregard anyone as less valuable than the next.
Believe in yourself. You may not know the plan for your life just yet. You might feel anxious about your future. Perhaps you don’t have a clue what you want to do, or who you want to be, or where you want to go… that’s okay. You are still so young! You have so much time to figure it all out. Don’t feel like you have to have it all perfectly planned. Trust that in time, you will discover your dreams and find purpose in your life. And if you do have a plan and know exactly who you want to be, go for it! Use your determination and commitment to reach your goals, but always remain open to the possibility of change. You may feel differently about those dreams while you’re chasing them.
Life is full of opportunities. One of the greatest gifts this life has to offer each and every one of us is the freedom to reinvent our goals with new passion and begin again. Always know that each day will offer you more opportunities if you are looking for them. Keep your eyes and heart open to new friends, new jobs, new pursuits because every new thing that comes your way can be a stepping stone for something extraordinary in your life. What you might think is meaningless can transform into something quite meaningful. Don’t overlook those small opportunities, because often they are the ones that open doors to something significant.
Love who you are. You are the only you there is. No one else has the unique gifts you have. No one else has your distinct talents, abilities, and potential. Cherish who you are, because you were designed on purpose for a purpose. Believe that! Always love yourself right where you are in life, no matter how messy things get or how mad at yourself you might be. You will be with you for the rest of your life, so be your own best friend. Life is so much easier if you treat yourself with the dignity and love you deserve. As you begin this journey in creating a life for yourself, the greatest joy will come from within. Don’t look for it or depend on it from anyone or search for it anywhere else.
Now go build your life on these truths and know you have a band of people who love you and are so proud of you!
Just love this bit, Chris:
“Make amends, adjustments, and decisions that allow you to redeem your bad choices, and do it with conviction. If you spend your life blaming others for your mistakes, your life choices, or your failures… you will never respect your own worth as a unique and capable individual.”
How important it is to be accountable for our words, actions and emotions. It makes us larger in heart and spirit when we are. It truly does.
P.S. Love the new look of your space!! :0)
I think that is one of the most important things young adults need to learn… it’s also the hardest part of life in many ways…
That and realizing that the world owes us nothing. Oh that one is hard. SO hard.
But from that truth, comes so much gratitude for what we DO have… and it also births the motivation to make our lives worthwhile and not ‘wait’ for life to come to us.
Thank you Dani!!! I loved your input!! And so glad you like the new ‘look’!! 🙂
Janine Huldie says
Beautiful advice for the now graduate and future ones, too Chris!!! 😉
Thank you Janine!! I really wish all graduates truly took all this advice to heart… <3
You need to be up there giving a speech somewhere!!
I would have been touched by your speech but maybe in denial that I would fail! ha. I had a lot to learn. I graduated during one of our many recessions and the speech was so sad and hopeless. I’m glad I’ve learned otherwise.
I was just at a graduation this weekend, and the speaker was really good!! But I thought, “Man, give me that mic!!! I have some things to add!!!” 😉
Wonderful advice, Chris! That picture should be made into a poster and handed out at every graduation :). Be responsible for your actions is one of my favorites. So many people at that age want to blame everyone else, parents, teachers, friends…, for everything wrong in their lives. It took me many years to learn the hard lesson of accepting my responsibility in my life circumstances. Coming to that realization was truly life changing.
By the way, I LOVE your new site design. It’s such a happy and peaceful vibe!
Thanks so much Candace!!! I love my new look too!!!
And yes… oh yes- do I agree with you!! Young adults are still so attached to the expectation that who they are and what they do is because OF others, of circumstances and experiences that they had no control over…
There comes a time in our lives, where we must let go of that perspective and take our own hearts, souls, minds,lives as our own. Some never truly understand this truth. It IS truly life changing. I too, have experienced the same, my friend!
Hi Chris! I really resonated with the theme of ‘respect’. Respect yourself, respect your situation and the people around you. Young people are so focused on their future (understandable) that they often forget that they are surrounded by people who are trying to do the same thing, or parents and family that need to be recognized too.
Taking care of themselves is huge too. Not just being careful with money, but with their health and relationships. I love this post, such great advice!
Do you have a graduate in your family this year? I thought your kids were young, but I’m probably mistaken.
You are not mistaken, my friend!! I have young kiddos, but I do have beloved teens in my ministry that graduated this past weekend!!
I love your point about taking care of yourself… such an important one to add! Thank you for that input, Ceil. You are so wise… <3
I love this – so much great advice for graduates and all of us.
BTW – I’ve been out of blogging a bit lately but I love the new look here.
Thanks so much Kim!! I sooo appreciate you coming over here when you are so busy!! MWUAH!!
Beautiful and encouraging words Chris! My son will graduate from grade school in a few years (ack!) and I just pray to God that a mother’s words of encouragement will help him face the world with courage!
ps. I LOVE the new look!
Oh yes, courage!!! ALL graduates, and kids of any age need to be brave… I’m sure your precious encouragement will help him face the world in more ways than that, my friend. <3
And thank you!! I'm loving the new look too!!
Lux Ganzon says
A salute to all graduates!
And I think you should get invited to give a school this speech. 🙂
Aw!! Thanks so much Lux!!! I’m betting many graduates will hear similar words of advice… at least I sure hope they do!!
Marcia @Menopausal Mother says
Excellent advice for any graduate, Chris!!
Marcia, you of all people know what they need to hear!!! Your kiddos have transitioned so well into that young adult world!! Thanks for coming by, my friend!!
Kristi Campbell says
Oh Chris, I love love this! It made me all teary thinking back to my own graduation and then thinking about Tucker’s one day…. I especially love the ending – making every moment count is something I wish I’d learned when I was younger… xoxo beautiful!!
I wish I learned A LOT of these things back then!! Thanks so much sweetie!! Yeah.. our kids… can you imagine them graduating? Sigh… not yet. Thank God!
Kelly L McKenzie says
The point that hit home for me the most? “You are your own best friend.” So very true, Chris. Just last week I was chatting with my son about one of his last year’s roommates. His observation? “Mom, he couldn’t be by himself. He always had to have someone with him. It was so sad.” They are not rooming together come Sept.
Isn’t that the truth Kelly? It’s just so important to truly love yourself and embrace who you are all alone. Many people are so dependent on others for validation, and that makes me sad- just like your son’s roommate!
lisa thomson says
I love this, Chris! I will forward it to my son who is graduating from college soon. It is so true and a great reminder even to us who have graduated long ago!!
Thank you so much Lisa!! And I’m honored that you will forward this to your son! I wish I had these words when I graduated… sometimes it takes YEARS to truly realize these things… at least it took years for me!
This is really great advice, Chris! It’s important to send them the message that life isn’t going to be easy, and that one must work hard. In fact, you should offer this image as a free printable. It would make a nice gift!
Oooh!! I don’t know how to do printables… hmmm… such a great idea Tarana!! Thanks so much, and yes- life is not going to be easy- so many kids have high expectations, and then they are easily discouraged. It’s a shame that many don’t understand this truth.
Beautiful list! We could all learn these again, don’t you think? Also so glad I am drinking coffee right now or your new header would make me want some 🙂 Love it!
Aw!!! SO happy to see you here again Tricia!! I’ve missed you, my friend!!! Thanks so much for coming by and reading this one! Glad you like the look, and that you had a cup of Joe in hand! *My fave* 🙂
Sarah Honey says
Beautiful advice for the Graduate! Pinned!
Thank you so much Sarah!!!
Carin Kilby Clark says
I love this! My teen will graduate high school class of 2016 and it’s bringing back so many memories of how difficult that time of life really is. So much pressure to figure things out and to make all these choices when you’re really still a kid. This is such a wonderful letter – going to have my son read it! xo
Thanks so much Carin!! I love that you are going to have your son read it. That means the world to me! I do remember how scary and overwhelming it was… and just how naive I was too!!
I love this and plan to give this to my boys to read. Even though two of them are not graduating yet (but are coming close), I think these are such important messages for them to learn NOW. Thank you!
Oh thank you so much Emily!! Yes… I think my kids could learn this NOW. All of us can, really!! I’m so glad you are going to share it with your boys!! That means so much to me… 🙂
Jane Wertz says
Also good advice for the not so young. We all go through places of starting new.
And there are many people out there that still need to learn these basic truths.
You could build a much longer writing on this. And I’d read it!
Oh thank you so much for your beautiful response, Jane! You are so right about the fact that ALL of us really need to take a good hard look at these truths. And yes, unfortunately there are quite a few people who still need to learn these.
I just may write a bit more about these, thanks to your lovely suggestion! Thank you!!
Oh my gosh this is awesome advice..not sugar coated but still so inspiring! It makes me want to go back to high school or college just to graduate again! Wish I had such advise..love your encouragement of claiming their own lives while being a good person. As enriching!!!
Donna McEachern says
Well Said!! I Love this!! Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for reading it, Donna!