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Even with advice, grads have to learn for themselves

Class of 2019, welcome to the real world! This is the beginning, not the end.

Hundreds of Lincoln County’s young adults recently took the next step in their lives as they leave high school behind for the hallowed halls of college institutions, trade schools and the workplace.

I tried to think back to my high school graduation. I like to think I am young and it was not that long ago, but then I realize it was more than 25 years ago. I asked myself, “What do I know now that I wish I knew then?”

Boy, that is a loaded question. As someone who took almost a decade, several dead-end jobs and two colleges to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, maybe I have something to share.

For what it is worth, and many of them are somewhat cliché, here is a list that comes straight from experience:

• Find something you love to do; everything else will work itself out. Anyone can choose a career that will make him or her lots of money. I urge Lincoln’s graduates to look for a path that will make them lots of happiness.

• Think about every decision you make and be prepared for the consequences. Life is all about choices and you must think about each and every one. A split-second decision can alter your life forever.

• Experience all that you can. Take a variety of classes, take opportunities when they come and keep an open mind. Something you thought you knew when you were 18 will look different at 25, as it will again at 35.

• Don’t be afraid to fail. There is no shame in trying something and failing but that same thing cannot be said for failing to try.

• Find a way to grow up while staying young at heart. Be an adult and be responsible, but try to keep your youthful exuberance. Many of the happiest people I have known are children on the inside.

• Don’t stress about things that you cannot control. This is one I am still trying to get my wife to buy into, but she is a worrier by nature. Impact the things that you can and let the rest run its course. If you can’t do anything about something, then don’t lose any sleep over it.

• Listen to your parents. After all, you will soon look into the mirror to find that you have become just like them. It is hard to tell when it happens, exactly, but trust me it will.

I have quoted this before, but it seems fitting here as well.

Musician Billy Joel (half the kids graduating this year have probably never heard of him) may have said it best:

“You better believe there will be times in your life

When you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool

So take it from me you’ll learn more from your accidents

Than anything that you could ever learn at school …

You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes

But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own.”

That pretty much sums up what life is all about: Having the determination and tenacity to do your best, take whatever comes your way and learn along the way.

High school may be over. The real journey is only beginning. Enjoy the ride.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Interior Journal. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@theinteriorjournal.com.